Ross Chastain’s ascension will continue into the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with Chip Ganassi Racing.

The team revealed on Friday morning that it had signed the watermelon farmer from Florida for a full season in the No. 42 with continued sponsorship from DC Solar. Chastain raced three times for Ganassi late in the season, winning one of those races at Las Vegas. He won the pole at Darlington and finished second at Richmond.

It was enough to convince Ganassi to make it a full-time program.

"I’m an eighth-generation farmer from Florida who was fortunate enough to get a shot in top-flight equipment," Chastain said. "I’m incredibly grateful to everyone, especially my family, who helped me get to this point. I’ve had a great run with Johnny Davis Motorsports, and it’s obvious I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without Johnny’s support.

"I have been racing everything that I can since breaking into NASCAR seven years ago. Until DC Solar and Chip (Ganassi) gave me a shot in Darlington, nobody knew who I was. I want to remain humble. I enjoy being the underdog."

Chastain has spent the past four seasons driving for JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. The three races he spent driving for Ganassi in the Xfinity Series was in addition to his JDM races. There was even some dialogue that maybe Ganassi and JDM could partner to give Chastain a shot at the 2018 championship.

Alas, those conversations were tabled to go all-in for the 2019 run.

Most of Chastain’s opportunity can be attributed to DC Solar CEO Jeff Carpoff, who has lobbied for Chastain all season, even hiring the driver to pilot his motorhome to races across the country in addition to his duties at JDM.

"I told him, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about and leave the driver hiring to me," Ganassi said about Carpoff. "Well, he was right ... everyone knows I like winners and we've seen he can win races."

Chastain will drive an entry that was shared by himself, John Hunter Nemechek and Kyle Larson this season. Ganassi hopes to retain Nemechek, who won for the team last month at Kansas Speedway. Nemechek has been linked to seats at Ganassi and GMS Racing.

"I'd like to run John Hunter in a second car," Ganassi said. "I think we have two really talented young shooters. We've entrusted him with the (owner's) championship. We really like him too."

Source: Autoweek

November 9, 2018