By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Ross Chastain’s world has flipped upside down in 2022, as the Floridian has officially transitioned from scrapping together top-20 finishes in the Xfinity Series to contending for his first Cup Series championship with Trackhouse Racing.
That so-called “scrap” took place over a five-year span in the sport’s second tier, running for teams like JD Motorsports.
And though the days of unsponsored rides and feels-like-a-win top 10s, there is something that still attracts Chastain to the small-team grind.
In Saturday’s Pennzoil 150 at Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit, Chastain brought DGM Racing, one of the most reputable small teams in the Xfinity Series, to a top-five finish.
The fourth-place result was only the team’s second top five in 485 Xfinity races, all steered by team owner Mario Gosselin, who embraced Chastain with a hug postrace on pit road.
That’s the beauty of the grind.
“Honestly, most of the time, this feels more at home than getting in the Cup car,” Chastain said. “Everything is not perfect, we don’t have the best motor. He puts sticker tires on it, though, and [Gosselin] has got a really good road-course car for me to drive. He called a great race.
“It’s wild. It’s incredible to come here and race with DGM, Mario Gosselin and perform like that. We did the same thing at COTA, this is no fluke. With attrition, we could have run second at COTA and now here, it wasn’t attrition. They brought four cars here all the way from south of Orlando, Florida. It’s impressive.”
As mentioned, times have changed for Chastain, who is now a two-time Cup winner and has years of race-winning opportunities with teams like Kaulig Racing, Chip Ganassi and now Trackhouse. However, there is something missing in the planned, sleek and secure realities of the Cup Series.
“Being against the odds going into the weekend almost feels more normal,” he said. “And now I’m acclimating to a fully prepared, fully funded Cup car.
“But it’s just racing. It’s different but I am learning a lot. I will never stop learning as long as I’m driving a racecar.”