Chip Ganassi Racing pulled off quite the turnaround within a week.
After filling the bottom two spots last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain both rallied back with top-10 finishes Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Both times, the two Chevrolets were listed back-to-back on the results sheet.
“A good day for both the No. 1 and 42 teams,” Chastain said. “I got to race with the No. 1 car a lot there at the end and only touch a little bit, which is hard to do here. A good teammate and good building day for CGR.”
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Chastain placed seventh in Sonoma’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. Busch was just ahead in sixth. Chastain’s result tied for his second best in 2021, and Busch’s also marked his second best.
The experience levels couldn’t really be more different. While Chastain is in his first full-time Cup Series ride, Busch is a former champion (2004) in his 21st full season. Chastain made his second career start at Sonoma. Busch notched his 20th.
“We had a smooth day,” Busch said. “We figured out how to have a nice, easy execution. I worked with Ross, our teammate, to get two top 10s. It was almost a top-five type car, just needed better drive off the corners. To be in the mix and have the right strategy and have a smooth day, we’ll take it, and we’re going to build on it.”
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The 37th and 38th finishes at Charlotte were flukes. Hendrick Motorsports executive vice president and general manager Jeff Andrews even publicly apologized and took responsibility for the performance of Chip Ganassi Racing’s engines on Friday. The organizations have a collaborative partnership as Chevrolet-backed teams.
Neither Chastain nor Busch is currently in the playoff picture. Busch is ranked 18th in the points standings, two spots outside the 16-driver field. Chastain is a bit further back in 20th. Ten races remain in the regular season, with the next points-paying opportunity not until June 20 at Nashville Superspeedway since the exhibition All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway is this upcoming Sunday (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Sonoma was a step back in the right direction for Chip Ganassi Racing, though. Busch and Chastain did both move up a standing tick after the pair of strong runs.
“Whoa, seventh on a dry road course,” Chastain said. “This No. 42 team is so good. They gave me a Clover Chevy that I can go out and race with the best Cup Series guys. It just seems wild.”