Alva NASCAR driver gets full-time ride with Chip Ganassi in 2019

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Alva resident Ross Chastain has a new ride for 2019.

The Riverdale High School graduate and NASCAR driver will be running the full NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 42 car, the team said at a Friday press conference at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

“Until DC Solar and Chip (Ganassi) gave me a shot in Darlington, nobody knew who I was,” Chastain said. “I want to remain humble. I enjoy being the underdog. Excited or thrilled doesn’t begin to capture how I feel about joining CGR full time. I’m eager to take full advantage of the opportunity in front of me.”

Chastain was given three races in the No. 42 car earlier this year and made the most of the opportunity. He started on the pole and led the most laps in his first race at Darlington until a late-race incident with Kevin Harvick spoiled his day, then was dominant in his next race at Las Vegas, leading 180 of 200 laps en route to his first career series win. Chastain finished second at Richmond after starting last in the 40-car field in his final race.

“From the moment I met Ross, I knew there was something special about him, so the decision to support him came easy,” Jeff Carpoff, CEO of team sponsor DC Solar said. “Witnessing his raw talent, as well as his humility and gratitude for the opportunity, only confirmed that he would be a great representative for the DC Solar brand.”

After that run, the local driver and watermelon farmer was rumored to be in the running for a larger role with Ganassi’s team, with especially high praise coming from both Ganassi and Carpoff.

“When we first talked about putting Ross in the car this year, this was something that Jeff and Paulette felt strongly about and Ross made the most of the opportunity running well in all three races and bringing home a win and a runner-up finish,” Ganassi said. We are looking forward to him continuing that success in 2019 and competing for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship.”

Chastain’s win in Las Vegas qualified him for the Xfinity Series playoffs, where he drove in his usual No. 4 car for JD Motorsports as his did most of the season, but was eliminated at the end of the Round of 12.

In 31 races this season, Chastain has three top five and eight top 10 finishes, with a best finish of fourth in the underfunded JD ride.

In October, Chastain was also announced as the driver of the No. 15 car for Premium Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 2019 in what was described as a “handshake deal” with team owner Jay Robinson by Lee Spencer of Racinboys. Chastain has run in the No. 15 in 32 races this season and is starting 33rd in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Phoenix.

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