CHEVROLET NCS AT NASHVILLE: Ross Chastain Media Availability Quotes

Ross Chastain, Driver of the No. 1 Busch Light Country Camaro ZL1, met with the media in advance of racing double duty in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series at Nashville Superspeedway

Media Availability Quotes:

Ross, this track was sort of your breakthrough finish in the NASCAR Cup Series with a runner up finish in 2021. Now that you’re the defending winner here, what does this track mean to you and your career?

“Yeah, it’s wild. This town means a lot for our team, so to start there – this is where Justin (Marks) moved his family and had this idea of Trackhouse, and he put it all into motion. Ty (Norris) moved over and they created this idea of this Cup team and how it would change the sport. At that time, when they were in their first year of operation, we ran second with Ganassi. And then to come back and finish fifth and first with Trackhouse here, it’s been great. There’s been some good parties at Tootsies after these races, I can tell you (laughs).”

You have the second-highest average finish in the series this season. What do you think has allowed you guys to run so consistently, but at the same more, what do you feel like you need to contend for more top-fives and wins?

“Just a little bit more speed. When we make a lap, whatever lap time it is right now, if it could be a half-tenth quicker. Just a little bit of balance; a little bit more turn and a little bit more rear grip on entry. Whatever it is, front grip on exit, rear grip on exit.. just start and finish of each lap, there just needs to be a little bit more and that puts us in that next group.

Now, the entire sport is trying to do that. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading, you want to be that half-tenth better. If you’re 30th, you want to be a half-tenth better. For us, I feel like we’re a really consistent 10th place car. A good restart, we’ll go to sixth, and a bad restart, I go to 14th. So yeah, it’s just a little bit.. it’s just crumbs now is what we’re looking for to get that top-five. And then you see it, with top-fives, then you win. You put yourself in position.”

With you’re career, you’ve kind of had to fight your way numerous times. Now, you’re in a more stable position. With what the people at Stewart-Haas are going through, from a driver’s perspective, how much of an impact does that have week-by-week on the track.. has you’re preparing and considering different moves you might make on the track?

“There’s nothing else to really do on-track. I mean you can’t drive into the corner any harder. You can’t have a better restart. You can’t make any more lap time. In my experience, I was a lot more social in those times. At events, like I knew different industry things were happening and I was out. At the lower levels of Truck and Xfinity, and back in the pack Cup, I was trying to go to lunch where I knew the crew chiefs went, and I would stop by the shop and just pop in. A lot of those Truck and Xfinity teams, the doors aren’t locked.. you can just walk into the shops. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but like during the day – if you’re there and you’re not supposed to be there, they’ll ask you to leave. But as a driver that was bouncing around from team-to-team, I would go in a half-hour or an hour before lunch and talk to somebody I knew at the shop. Try to get to the crew chief or the general manager and be like – oh you’re going to lunch.. let’s go. I had nothing going on and obviously I’m looking for a job, so that was my mentality back then. It changed.. obviously I never walked into the CGR shop or anything like that. Like of course I wanted to drive there years before I did, but you can’t get in. Yeah, on-track though, they’re not able to do anything more. We’re all trying every race. I’ve obviously got a long-term contract, and I’m not driving into the restart easy by any means.. I’m looking for a gap.”

Chevrolet has won every Cup race that’s been here. Is that just a coincidence, or is that something that’s really been Chevrolet’s program?

“It’s no coincidence. Yeah, from the Gen-6 car to the Gen-7, we’ve came here and had speed. We haven’t led all the laps by any means. There’s been other people that have led laps and have looked like they were going to be stronger, but at the end of the races, we’ve really came on strong. We saw that last year – when it went to nighttime, our car really came alive. In 2021, it was a day race and we were really strong at the end. There’s just a lot of nuances about this track and this race that feel like a mile-and-a-half, until you get to the corner and then you’re heavy braking; downshifting where it feels like a Kansas (Speedway) or what Kentucky (Speedway) used to be, where you carried a lot more speed. But that little bit of distance out of the track – I haven’t ever actually done the math, but it feels like it’s only in the corners. The corners feel tighter, so we’re slowing down a lot more.

But yeah, no coincidence though, for sure.”

Is there one corner or spot at the Chicago Street Course that appears more difficult than others?

“How many turns are there.. 20? Then 20 of them (laughs). I swear, I didn’t have a comfortable corner there last year. I just couldn’t get comfortable.. like I wasn’t right off the bat and it never came throughout the race. So yeah, looking for a lot more there and just being comfortable with it. I’ve had a year to wrap my head around what that was like; those concrete cannons between the walls. Yeah, all were difficult.”

Have you been able to lean on SVG at all, just to kind of pick his brain on how you might improve your game there?

“Yeah, we’ve spent a lot of time together.. a lot of time running. The guy is huge into running, so if I want time with him, I’ll go run and we’ll meet. Him, Nick Sanchez and I, we just go run and talk and then usually we’ll start running fast enough that I’ll run out of air to talk with and I have to use it to breath (laughs).

Yeah, it is.. it is. He’s just such a great guy and he’s got little tidbits here and there. And then there’s just so much data we can look at, so I can learn just as much hearing from him as I can looking through his stuff; how he made speed compared to me. And it’s confidence.. a lot of it is confidence. It’s intentionally placing the car where he wanted to place it, and I was trying to place it kind of between the walls and he was placing it at the wall; maximizing left and right. Easy to say it, but really hard to do it.”