Ross Chastain is back with Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend. That’s a very good thing. While he’s certainly making a name for himself in his two brief opportunities in his ride, his final one could leaving the longest lasting impression.
The Florida native just won last weekend in Las Vegas where he led all but 20 laps en route to his first career NASCAR victory. Unfortunately though, this is his final start in the No. 42 Chevrolet. Justin Marks (Charlotte) and John Hunter Nemechek will take care of the rest of the duties in this entry from here on out. So, before Chastain goes back to his JD Motorsports car for Charlotte on, why not accumulate max points while he can?
Odds are, he may struggle with JDM. That’s not a secret but rather a fact. It’s not for a lack or talent or anything wrong with the team either. It’s just that the team doesn’t have the resources that it takes to compete with the big dogs of the series. At this point of the season, JDM is going against Richard Childress Racing, Roush/Fenway Racing, JR Motorsports, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing. Four drivers are going to be eliminated from playoff contention in this round. Don’t you think the JDM team is likely one of them?
That’s what makes this race so important.
Chastain, will likely finish outside of the top 10 in the final two races of the first round. That likely won’t be enough to advance him in the playoffs. But, if he can just be solid enough in those races and combine that with a top five finish on Friday night, that may be just enough to squeak by. Even better, he could win again too which automatically gets him onto the next round.
In two starts in this Ganassi opportunity, Chastain has led 270 laps and won all four stages. He’s got a chance again on Friday night to show what he can do.
Where this race has lasting value is this, if Chastain can win or do good enough at Richmond to position himself to get into the next round, then he gets three more races of TV time. It’s no secret, the playoff drivers get a bulk of the attention now. There are no Cup drivers stealing their limelights anymore. It’s all about them.
If Chastain gets to race further into the playoffs, that’s a neat storyline. It helps sell sponorship dollars for JDM which in turn makes them more competitive. It also maybe aligns them in the future with a bigger powerhouse. Also, it keeps Chastain’s name relevant.
That’s why he took a chance on himself after all right?
Chastain isn’t making any money with Ganassi. He’s betting on himself here. He knew that if he continued to run with JDM and never moved over to make these opportunities, his name doesn’t get brought up and he’s eventually out of a ride. The money always dries up. Well, in order to shine a little brighter, you need to be with a bigger team running up front.
He’s doing that and getting attention for it.
What happens after Dover if he’s not in the playoffs anymore and back with JDM? He’s not getting noticed for the final four weeks of the season. That’s not good for him.
That’s why Richmond is so key. A good finish could propel him to the second round which means Chastain closes out the year with attention in at least eight of the final nine races.