The first major seat up for grabs in the 2020-21 NASCAR Cup Series “silly season” has been claimed by NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Ross Chastain. Chastain has reunited with Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the #42 next season.
“I can’t thank Chip enough for this opportunity. The faith he and the organization showed me back in 2018 was a real turning point in my career, and I am extremely happy for the chance to join the team again,” Chastain said, as quoted in an Associated Press article. “Racing in the Cup Series with a serious contender has always been my goal, and I’m looking forward to joining what is a very strong team. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I’m ready to get to work and help bring more success to the organization.”
Chastain drove an Xfinity Series car for CGR in three races in 2018, one of those resulting in the driver’s first of two-career wins. Chastain was expected to drive and Xfinity Series car full-time for Ganassi in 2019, but CGR shuttered its Xfinity Series program ahead of the 2019 season because of legal issues for primary sponsor DC Solar.
Chastain is a championship competitor in the Xfinity Series this season for Kaulig Racing after driving for that team part-time last season.
Chastain already has 79 races of Cup Series experience, dating back to 2017, including running nearly full-time schedules in 2018 and 2019. He has a best Cup Series race finish of 10th in last year’s Daytona 500.
Kyle Larson was driver of the #42 from 2014 through the first four races of the 2020 Cup Series season, prior to an approximate two-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the break, though, Larson was fired by the race team and indefinitely suspended by NASCAR after he used a racial slur during a live online stream of an iRacing event. Matt Kenseth has driven the car since NASCAR’s return and will finish the season in the #42. Seven races remain in 2020.