The hints could be seen early on for Ross Chastain.
In 2021, his first full 36-race season in the Cup Series, Chastain put together a string of top-20 finishes, relentlessly racing in the shadows of the leaders as he learned the stock car racing game at its highest level.
The rewards – and the promise – arrived later in that year. There was a fourth at Circuit of the Americas, a second at Nashville, an eighth at New Hampshire and a third at tricky old Darlington.
Chastain could see the future – and the way to victory lane.
2022 opened with Chastain driving under the flag of Trackhouse Racing, and the team almost immediately showed new strength. There was a third at Las Vegas three races into the year, and then seconds at Phoenix and Atlanta.
Six races in, Chastain’s persistence and patience paid off. Determined to come out on top in what was a chaotic finish at Circuit of the Americas, he scored his first win. Four races later, he underlined the power of the team with a victory at super-fast Talladega Superspeedway.
Across all the races, Chastain had looked and learned, watching for the opening to gain a position, taking advantage of another driver’s skate up the banking, putting his Chevrolet in a space that at first looked too small but wound up just big enough.
Ross Chastain had arrived.
To go along with the breakthrough pair of wins in 2022, Chastain stacked up 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes and stunned the NASCAR world by finishing second in points.
The roll continued into the 2023 season, with Chastain posting top-five finishes in five of the first 12 races. No other driver had more than five in that category, underlining Chastain’s consistent excellence and his ability to bring home impressive finishes even on difficult days.
He has improved both his average start and average finishes numbers over the 2022 season, contending for wins virtually every week and rising to the very top of the point standings one-third through the season.
Chastain is on track to better his 2022 numbers and to position himself for another clear shot at a Cup Series championship.
“I’m always learning and evolving – as a NASCAR driver and as a human being,” Chastain said. “That’s truer now than ever. “
Some observers saw Chastain’s promise a decade ago when the Florida native won the 2011 World Series of Asphalt championship at New Smyrna Speedway on the Florida coast. He ventured into NASCAR national-series racing, constantly working to move into better rides and gaining attention as a driver who would push the button when it came time to make some noise.
Chastain got his first Xfinity Series win in 2018 and his first Craftsman Truck Series win in 2019 before stepping into his first Cup victory lane with Trackhouse in 2022.
He honed his craft along the way.
“I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of people,” Chastain said. “Although I keep my circle pretty small, I’ve taken advice from a lot of people, some who honestly don’t get asked a lot of questions.”
Every tip helps. Every lap is another learning opportunity.
For Ross Chastain, the road ahead is wide – and fast.