One of NASCAR’s biggest highlights of the past few years has been the meteoric rise of Ross Chastain, as he went from melon grower to field filler to Cup Series star.
Now, his younger brother Chad, 23, is trying to make the same ascent. Chad Chastain currently works on the family watermelon farm just like his brother used to, never slouching behind the wheel himself, and winning races all over Florida.
Chad Chastain made his Camping World Truck Series debut last year at Watkins Glen International. He hopped into a Niece Motorsports truck after the team discovered that Ross Chastain had not been allowed in the race due to the Cup drivers being banned from participating in the regular season finale. Chastain the Younger finished 34th.
Two more trucks took off the Chad Chastain way this year with Niece, with one starting at No. 41 and one at No. 44. He finished 30th in both Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Richmond Raceway.
expansion Chad Chastain met before the Richmond race to talk about his racing background, what he’s working on now and what it’s like to see his brother in the headlines a lot.
Michael Massey, expansionHow did this deal come about for you to drive a Niece Motorsports?
Chad Chastain: I’ve been working with them for a long time, only helping them when I can. We ran the IRP really well and kept the truck clean last time, and they put me on this weekend, so I couldn’t be more grateful.
Massy: Is your brother Ross or [teammate] Carson Hocevar ever helped you prepare for these races?
chastity: Yes, Ross has never raced a truck [at Richmond], so he just got out of his trucking knowledge and his track knowledge of the Xfinity and the Cup. I definitely asked Carson about a few things, they were hardly the same because we have different driving styles.
Massey: When did you start racing?
chastity: I started racing in 2010.
Massey: How old were you?
chastity: I was 12 years old, running professional trucks.
Massey: I read that you won almost everything in Florida. I’ve won late model races, truck races there, road races. Is that true, and how did you push so many different things?
chastity: Yes, we had a professional truck that Ross ran and ran when I was old enough to do it. We didn’t start at five, six, or seven [years old] Like some guys in karts. We started in full body cars. Then the model, you do good there, you win races, you win championships, different circuit titles. I went on a series of rounds, I won those races.
So obviously the next level will be late models. We took that step and won back-to-back supermodels on different tracks, winning two championships there. And now here we are.
Massey: I read that you won the Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway. What was that?
chastity: That was in SPAT [Southern Pro Am Truck] series. We ran at Homestead a few times on the road track and SCCA series when they were there, and we also ran at Sebring a few times. I was able to take wins at both places, which was really nice because Ross never won at Homestead and I did.
Massey: Someone raised it a little.
Massey: What year was that?
chastity: It was 2015 or 2016, sort of when that series was at its height and had a good truck count.
Massey: What have you been racing the past two years?
chastity: Basically tractors.
chastity: Yes, I graduated from high school in 2017 and went straight to work on the farm. Racing has a tough business model, it’s hard to get into, and the opportunities just didn’t exist. So I go farm and race when I can. Not as much as I’d like it to be. There are two very difficult industries to stay involved in, and to stay on top of them.
The pro trucks come home when I can, and I often work here with these guys, with Niece Motorsports, with Trackhouse, learning all I can do from them and all I can do from Ross and just love this opportunity.
Massey: Are you still working on the farm now?
chastity: Yeah, so I still get phone calls and keep the guys going. We are now fixing some things that were damaged last season. This is just the nature of the game. So we are now preparing for the spring 2023 crop.
Massey: If you ended up winning a race, would you also smash a watermelon? Or is this a Russian thing?
chastity: I don’t think about it that far. I’m just looking forward to getting out here and learning and keeping a clean truck. And if we hit those goals and do well, we’ll be in the truck even more this year. This is the goal.
Massey: Your first two truck races were kind of a struggle. But what have you learned and can take away from these?
chastity: Just how these trucks react and how tires wear out. Completely different from anything I’ve ever run. This stuff is so heavy, you’re going a lot faster than anything you’ve done in the past. So I learned a lot there.
We had the speed both times, it was the first race I made a very expensive mistake, just inexperience. Going back to the IRP, we had some difficulties in the pit way and ended up on a run, and then once you get cornered, you’ll never get it back.
Massey: Your niece has been an integral part of your brother’s career. What would it take to launch your same method?
chastity: Motorsport’s niece, Mr. Al Niece, Mr. Cody [Efaw, Niece general manager] And all the guys here, all the boys and girls who come back to the store and come to the ring have really given me more chances than I can say thank you to them. I tell them every day, just thank you for this.
I make sure they know how much I appreciate it. They took me further than I could ever have imagined. I don’t know where it ends, and I hope it never ends. I would like to stay here.
Massey: Back in Florida, have you ever raced against your brother?
chastity: We never raced because we only had one truck and one late model. So we didn’t have all of us. We ran the same setup for both of us. So that was kind of the way it went. We’ve never competed in the same race.
Massey: How bad do you want to do that at some point?
chastity: It would be great to come back and do that at some point, but for now we’re focused on those things and we’re having success here.
Massey: How about you while you’re in the same truck race? Are you trying to achieve this?
chastity: I think old Cody [Efaw] You might have a heart attack if we try to do this. There is always a choice. We may have to make it happen one day.
Massey: How did it feel to watch Ross rise to be a star in the Trophy?
chastity: I knew it could get there in 2010, when we were running late supermodels all over Florida and outrun teams and drivers who had a lot more than we ever did and way more support and more manpower. My dad, Ross, and our grandparents have been helping out when they can, and only two friends from back home I went to high school with. And that’s kind of how – when we were winning races, I knew he could get here. It was just a matter of finding the right opportunity.
Massey: And then on the flip side, how was it, like Denny Hamlin’s situation and I love seeing the TV guys give him a hard time?
chastity: It doesn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t bother Ross. This is part of it. Every good driver has those obstacles to overcome. So we just take it and keep putting together the good races, and the year-end finishes will tell the tale.
Massey: Are you going to finish the year in a niece’s truck?
chastity: Now, it’s only the weekend, and then I’ll be back in Florida on Monday. We’ll see how it goes tonight, and we’ll see what we can put together going forward.
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