CHEVROLET NCS AT DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY – Ross Chastain Media Availability Quotes

I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, but as someone who has been coming here since a kid, what’s it’s like to have a giant picture of yourself in the Fanzone?

“I’ve looked up at that banner for so long. We would get the Fanzone access pass added on to our ticket. We did it a couple of times when we were kids. My parents would take us down in there and I remember ordering a Shirley Temple or something at the bistro there. I’ve never looked at it other than just as a place where you walk by. Now today I walk by and I see it… it’s stuff I’ve seen for so long but now it has more meaning. That big ol’ banner with my face on it is wild.”

You’re up to four Cup victories now and have contended for a championship. Is the next step this year to add one of the big races to get you into that next phase?

“I don’t know what the next step is. Competing is top of mind for me. It’s really all I focus on. I focus just as much for the Daytona 500 as I do any track in Cup. They are all so important and so pivotal. I never know when the last one is going to be. That’s just the way the world works. One of these will be my last win. I’m fortunate to have a couple now but we’ll see. Obviously the World 600, Southern 500, Daytona 500… those are big ones but I can’t prepare any more than I do for them because I’m preparing as much as I can, or as much as I know how. There’s probably always more I can do but it’s as much as I know how to do.”

What’s your reaction to your role in the Netflix series?

“It’s cool to show me, and that’s what I told Justin (Marks) and that’s what I told Trackhouse when we were negotiating my contract… and the Netflix group. I told them ‘Hey, I’m not going to give you the soundbites that you’re looking for.’ There were times when we would be talking with the producers and the cameras would be rolling and they’re asking me questions and they’d say ‘Is that all you want to say?’ and I’m like ‘Yes that’s my honest answer. I’m me.’ So when we were planning out stuff for them to capture, I told them I’d be out at the farm if they wanted to come see it, and they did. I’m glad they showed that because it’s really me.”

How would you look at the racing at Atlanta since the reconfiguration?

“I think the track knows what it wants to be, and it wants to be different. Because it is. As the pavement wears out, it’s getting wild. The first race we went to with the Gen Seven car and the repave, it all lined up together. I couldn’t even make laps in practice by myself. They were out there drafting and pushing each other. We were so loose and out of control that we had to make a ton of adjustments and ended up second in that race. Then as it’s evolved, we’ve gotten our car better but the track is losing grip. So last year in the second race, I couldn’t be aggressive. I was just trying not to crash by myself. We’ve had to put some work into it, so we’ll see. And that was only two years’ worth of racing. If in five years or 10 years.. we’d never think about repaving a track in 10 years if everything is ok with it. If they want superspeedway racing in 10 years, they’ll have to repave it again. With the current horsepower and aero package, we’re going too fast and sliding. At least I am. We gotta get some more grip built in the 1 car.”

When we were here last year, the talk at Trackhouse was managing expectations with how you finished the 2022 season. What is the expectation level now?

“Keep working. We definitely took some time and took some days, weeks and better part of a month to unplug, then we came back in January and it’s full speed ahead working as hard as ever and doing everything we know to do. We’re not going the same prep that we did for ’23 or ’22 and definitely not for ’21. As we’ve evolved and learned, we keep growing. What are the expectations? I don’t have any number-based ones or anything. Just go compete. Whatever we learn after the first two and the superspeedway stuff here and in Atlanta and then go out west and we evolve our packages for springs and shocks, that’s what gets me excited.”

As a kid from Florida, what does the Daytona 500 mean to you and what would it mean to win it?

“Why not us? I have to think that. Why can’t we win? There are no reasons why we can’t. From there, indescribable… I don’t know what it would mean. If it happens, you’ll get to watch us experience it for the first time together.”

Not to suggest anything, but how do you normally spend a rain delay?

“Trying not to eat. Even if I’ve eaten and prepared, and we go out and run 10 laps in the race and we get out, I’m looking for food. It’s just my natural nervous instinct. So I’ll eat more. Even though we aren’t racing, we’re still burning calories. The nerves and the adrenaline and the heart rate is up. It’s impossible not to need to take in more calories during these events.”

When the forecast looks bad, do you dwell on that or do you plan that everything is going to run according to schedule?

“We plan accordingly. We have rooms booked in case we need them. That’s a necessary insurance plan. I don’t dwell. I’d rather the rain be here than at the farm. We don’t need any more rain. A little bit is OK but not the two days of steady rain like they’re talking here. Farmer at heart here has been looking at different weather apps my entire life and listening to forecasts and meteorologists. We’ll see.”