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August 3, 2021

Trackhouse taps Chastain as second Cup Series driver for 2022

Ross Chastain will pilot Trackhouse Racing Team’s second car – the No. 1 Chevrolet – in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series, the organization announced Tuesday. The deal is a multi-year agreement with Chastain also slated to drive the car in ’23.

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The 28-year-old currently drives the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. Trackhouse revealed it had purchased Ganassi’s NASCAR operations back on June 30, a transaction that included its two Cup Series charters. That left Chastain’s future in question, but not anymore.

“Excitement is always the name of the game with an announcement like this, but it’s more than excitement for just another team,” Chastain told reporters after the Tuesday announcement. “I’ve been now, crazy enough, in this sport for 10 years. … It’s more than just another team. I’ve been fired and I’ve left teams and done a lot of things and could do a lot of things better but to bring it all full circle with somebody I’ve known my entire life in the sport and do it with a group that just truly feels like more than a team, that’s what made this process of getting in this car so much easier.”

Upon learning of the CGR sale, Chastain texted longtime acquaintance and Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks and simply said, “I want this.”

There were some formalities to iron out of the past month, but the two sides were eager to work out a deal together as Trackhouse continues its march toward the future with exciting, young talent.

“I know for myself and I think I can speak for Justin that we wanted it. And whether or not it all worked out – we had to work through the other stuff – but fundamentally down to the core of it, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” Chastain said.

Through 22 races this 2021 season, Chastain has tallied two top-five runs – a career-best mark in 101 starts overall. He was the runner-up at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20, another career high. He also has six top 10s and is averaging a 17.8 finish. Chastain sits four spots below the NASCAR Playoffs cutline, out by 144 points with four races remaining until the postseason begins.

After a pair of near full-time Cup seasons in 2018-19 behind the wheel of the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, the 2020 season saw him take on a brief stint as a fill-in for Ryan Newman while the veteran recovered from injuries sustained in a last-lap crash in the season-opening Daytona 500. He also drove the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevy part-time last year, with a best finish of 16th in the summer race at Daytona International Speedway.

Chastain previously raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. He has two wins in the Xfinity Series and three in the Camping World Truck Series. He was the ’19 Camping World Truck Series runner-up before placing seventh in Xfinity points last year driving for Kaulig Racing.

With the move, Chastain gains Daniel Suarez as a teammate in place of Kurt Busch, whose 2022 plans are still up in the air. Suarez handles Trackhouse’s sole Cup Series car right now – the No. 99 Chevy. He’ll return to the team next season, that has already been made clear.

“Trackhouse, we’re trying to build something real special for the future and that means recognizing talent that sort of is at a point in their career where they’ve got experience but they’re young and still building their career. That’s what we feel we have with Daniel and now for sure we have with Ross,” said Marks. “He’s got a number of Cup starts under his belt. Just like Daniel, when he’s been sitting in race-winning equipment, he’s gotten the job done. That is a talent and a skill that is independent of just how fast you can go. … We’ve got two closers on this team now.”

Trackhouse, co-owned by Marks and Grammy winner Pitbull, is currently in its first Cup Series season.

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Marks talked at length about the kind of driver and person Chastain is, and how much he appreciates the hurdles that the old-school racer has had to overcome in his career to this point. It’s a notion that Marks and Pitbull have embraced thoroughly, and that general underdog, us-against-the-world vibe has been evident from Day 1 at Trackhouse.

It’s what makes this union the perfect fit.

“He’s got a lot of fight and a lot of want in him. And I tell people this: there’s a real nuance when you’re looking at drivers and you’re trying to determine what skill set they’ve got and what kind of potential they have and to me, I’m a huge fan of people that have had to work hard against adversity and against odds to try to get where they’ve gotten in their careers. I think it’s that fight and those years of working hard towards something when it’s been difficult along the way that pays dividends at the Cup level.”

Chastain will make his Trackhouse debut in the 2022 Daytona 500 on February 20.

Contributing: Staff reports