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Ross Chastain to make 200th Cup career start at Darlington

Competing in his fourth consecutive full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Ross Chastain is within reach of a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, the driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will achieve 200 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series. 

A native of Alva, Florida, Chastain made his inaugural presence in the Cup Series at Dover Motor Speedway in June 2017. By then, he was campaigning in his third full-time season in the Xfinity Series, all with JD Motorsports. Driving the No. 15 Chevrolet entry for Premium Motorsports, Chastain started 36th and finished 20th in his Cup debut. Four months later, he made his second Cup career start with Premium at Dover during the 2017 Playoffs, where he finished 38th. 

In 2018, Chastain, who remained a full-time Xfinity competitor, also competed in all but two of the 36-race Cup schedule. Making his first start of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, where he finished 30th, the Floridian achieved a season-best 18th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in April, a single-lap lead at Talladega Superspeedway in October and an average-finishing result of 28.4, all while competing for Premium Motorsports. 

The following season, Chastain, who made 77 career starts across NASCAR’s top three national touring series and contended for the Truck Series title, also competed in all but one of the 36-race Cup schedule with Premium Motorsports. He commenced the season by notching his first top-10 career finish during the 61st running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway by finishing 10th. He would then notch a 12th-place finish at Talladega in October while tallying a total of 11 laps led and an average-finishing result of 28.2 before the 2019 season’s conclusion. 

In 2020, Chastain, who became a full-time Xfinity competitor for Kaulig Racing, made his first Cup start of the season during the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 with Spire Motorsports, where he ended up 25th after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. He then competed in the following three events as an interim competitor for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford Mustang team as veteran Ryan Newman was recovering from a harrowing final lap wreck during the Daytona 500. In Chastain’s three-race stint with Roush, his highest-finishing result was a 17th-place run at Auto Club Speedway in March. Chastain would then make four additional Cup starts for the rest of the season with Spire Motorsports, where he achieved a season-best 16th-place result at Daytona in August. 

In September 2020, Chastain was announced as a full-time Cup Series competitor for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry for the 2021 season. He commenced the season by finishing seventh during the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 despite being involved in a final lap multi-car wreck before finishing no higher than 14th during his next 12 starts. After notching his first top-five career result during the series’ inaugural event at Circuit of the Americas in May, Chastain rallied from finishing 37th during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to finish seventh at Sonoma Raceway and a career-best second place behind Kyle Larson during the series’ inaugural event at Nashville Superspeedway in June. Despite recording two additional top-10 results during the final nine regular-season events on the schedule, Chastain fell short of making the 2021 Cup Playoffs.

Nonetheless, Chastain achieved a third-place finish during the Playoffs opener at Darlington Raceway followed by a seventh-place run at Richmond Raceway in September. He then managed to secure three top-15 results during the final eight events on the schedule before ending up in 20th place in the final standings. By then, Chastain boosted his average finishing result to 18.6 and tallied three top-five results, eight top-10 results and 62 laps led throughout the 36-race schedule. He had also surpassed 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series. 

In early August 2021, Chastain, who was initially labeled a free agent after Trackhouse Racing purchased Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operations for the 2022 season, was hired by Trackhouse to pilot the team’s No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in 2022. Despite finishing 40th and 29th, respectively, during the season’s first two-scheduled events, he rebounded by finishing in the top three, including two runner-up results, during his next three starts. Then at Circuit of the Americas in March, Chastain outlasted an overtime battle against AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman, where he bumped and sent Allmendinger into Bowman before the former spun with two corners remaining, to notch the first Cup Series career victory for himself and for Trackhouse Racing, with the victory occurring in Chastain’s 121st Cup career start.

Four races later, he overtook both Kyle Larson and Erik Jones through the tri-oval on the final lap to score his second career win at Talladega Superspeedway in April, where he only led the final lap. The pair of regular-season victories along with a total of 10 top-five results and 14 top-10 results in 26 starts were enough for Chastain to qualify for his first Cup Series Playoffs.

After recording three top-10 results during the 2022 Playoff’s first six events, he was able to transfer from the Round of 16 to 8. Then after recording back-to-back runner-up results during the Round of 8’s first two events and entering the Round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway above the top-four cutline to make the Championship 4 round, Chastain achieved an incredible feat on the final lap by sending his car at full speed against the outside wall through the final two turns to go from 10th to fifth before taking the checkered flag.

As a result, Chastain, who was initially scored two points below the cutline, ended up making the Championship 4 cutline by four points over rival Denny Hamlin, who Chastain also managed to edge at the finish line. Eventually, Chastain would be credited with a fourth-place result after initial fourth-place finisher Brad Keselowski was disqualified for failing post-race inspection. During the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, Chastain finished in third place on the track and in a career-best second place in the final standings behind Joey Logano. Despite falling one position short of winning his first Cup title, the 2022 season was a career year for the Floridian, who nabbed his first two career victories and achieved career-high stats in top fives (15), top 10s (21) and laps led (692) along with a career-best average-finishing result of 13.3.   

Returning to Trackhouse Racing while under a new multiyear deal in 2023, Chastain commenced the season by finishing ninth during the 65th running of the Daytona 500. He then finished in the top five a total of five times during his next 11 starts before finishing no higher than 10th during the next four. Then at Nashville Superspeedway in June, Chastain secured his spot for the 2023 Cup Series Playoffs after scoring the first victory of the season for himself and Trackhouse Racing, where the Floridian led a race-high 99 laps and started on pole position for the first time in his career. After recording only a single top-10 result for the remaining nine regular-season events, Chastain then finished fifth, 13th and 23rd, respectively, throughout the Round of 16, which were enough for him to transfer into the Round of 12.

With respective finishes of second, 37th and 10th during the Round of 12, however, he was eliminated from title contention. Nonetheless, Chastain proceeded to finish fifth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Round of 8 opener in October before concluding the season with a dominant win in the season-finale event at Phoenix Raceway in November. The finale victory at Phoenix was enough for Chastain to end up in ninth place in the final standings in a season where he notched two victories, a pole, 10 top-five results, 14 top-10 results, 640 laps led and an average-finishing result of 15.0. 

Chastain commenced the 2024 campaign by nearly winning the 66th running of the Daytona 500 until he and Austin Cindric wrecked through the frontstretch on the final lap, which relegated the Floridian to a 21st-place finish in the final running order. He has since recorded a total of four top-10 results through his next 11 starts and is currently ranked in 10th place in the 2024 driver’s standings while trailing the points lead by 136 points.

Through 199 previous Cup starts, Chastain has achieved four victories, one pole, 29 top-five results, 48 top-10 results, 1,515 laps led and an average-finishing result of 20.3 as he continues his pursuit for his first Cup Series championship. 

Ross Chastain is scheduled to make his 200th Cup Series career start at Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400 on Sunday, May 12, with the event’s coverage to commence at 3 p.m. ET on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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