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Ross Chastain
Matt Sullivan | Getty Images

Chastain stays busy while chasing Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoff berth

JOLIET, Ill. – Ross Chastain smiled widely when asked Friday how his multi-win, playoff-brink of a season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series has gone. But he insists he’s been too busy to bask in the spotlight or soak in the accolades coming his way.

And there have been plenty of both.

Chastain’s victory last weekend at Gateway put him in a more solid position to earn a shot at the truck series championship. With the win, the 26-year-old only needs to break into the top 20 in the points standings to earn the chance to compete for the season title. Coming off a seventh-place finish in Friday night’s Camping World 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, he now sits in 24th-place in the standings, only 10 points out of the 20th spot in the standings.

RELATED: Chastain scores Gander Trucks win at Gateway | Series standings

Chastain won earlier this season at Kansas Speedway but hadn’t declared his truck series championship intention yet so it didn’t count toward a truck championship eligibility. He won two weeks ago at Iowa, but his truck was disqualified and the victory wasn’t allowed to count toward his championship effort. It inspired instead of deterred him, however, and he answered with another win last week at Gateway.

So this weekend, Chastain’s only looking forward even if there’s little time to enjoy the view. He is entered in all three races at Chicagoland – Friday’s Gander Trucks race was his 40th start among the three series this season and most of any driver in NASCAR’s top three divisions. He’s also set to compete in Saturday’s Xfinity Series and Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races.

And Chastain says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Definitely,’’ Chastain said. “I had three hours of truck practice yesterday then today I’ll have an hour of Xfinity (Series) practice then 10 minutes later I’ll be qualifying a truck, so that will help me in the truck for sure. It’s the sensation of speed for me.‘’

Next week, Chastain returns to his home state for the annual July stop at Daytona International Speedway. He’ll visit a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg on Monday and then head over to his home in Alva on the Southwest Coast near Fort Myers. Yet as his star brightly rises in the NASCAR world, Chastain insists his profile hasn’t changed much – at home or at the race locales he visits.

He’s still the humble, driven competitor who is seizing the opportunity he’s earned.

“We’re hustling and now is the time more than ever I have to prove I want it,’’ Chastain said.