BRINGING "MELON POWER" TO KANSAS:
After a rocky finish in Rockingham, 19-year-old rookie Ross Chastain looks to bring "melon power" with his No. 08 Florida Watermelon Association/National Watermelon Promotion Board Toyota Tundra to the fast grooves of Kansas Speedway. He will make his ninth overall start in the NASCAR Camping Truck Series this weekend in the SFP 250, and his third start this season.
Coming out of Martinsville in April with a seventh place finish, his second top 10 in the NCWTS, Chastain was in high confidence going to another short track. A solid set of practice runs at Rockingham Speedway, followed by a strong 14th place qualifying, gave the young driver confidence going into the inaugural NCWTS race at the famed short track. Luck, and an extremely loose truck - way beyond what he experienced all weekend - got in the way. Chastain used everything in his power to keep it in the wheel and on the track, when many other competitors rookie and veteran alike had to take it behind the wall. He would eventually finish in the 25th position.
LADY LUCK SHOWS HER FACE IN KANSAS?
Ross will get to meet Kansas Lottery winners from across the state on Friday night at an appearance on behalf of Kansas Speedway at the Great Wolf Lodge. During his Q&A session, he'll speak to the lucky winners about all things NASCAR and his experience so far in a motorsports family. He's also hoping that luck just might "rub off" on his No. 08 Florida Watermelon Association/National Watermelon Promotion Board Toyota Tundra on track!
POINTS, POINTS, POINTS:
Chastain, a hard charger in the race for the Rookie of the Year contention, sits in the third spot - four points ahead of Max Gresham and behind leader Ty Dillon.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DRIVER: ROSS CHASTAIN:
"Rockingham race day was a super challenging day for us. The guys are still tearing down the truck in the shop to see what was wrong - something just wasn't right with the handling there after we had great practice and qualifying runs - but something was definitely going on in the rear carriage. It was literally all that I could do to keep it on the track, it was fishtailing so much. It's a shame, especially since I was really finding the right grooves in practice and had a good qualifying run. At the end of the day, this is still new to me - and Rockingham was a first-time experience. I'm proud of the guys at SS Greenlight Racing for setting up a great truck and working hard, but it's time to focus on the intermediates like Kansas, Dover and Charlotte."
ON THIS YEAR SO FAR:
"Looking at the stats, it can look a little overwhelming. We had a run in at Daytona, like a lot of teams do, so it was an unfortunate crash that left us in 28th for a finish. Martinsville was awesome and it was a great day with that top 10. It's how I know we can run, and I ran in the top 10 last year. It's still so early on in the season, and there are a lot of veterans who have also been caught up in some bad luck situations - so I'm not alone. All we can do is keep setting up great trucks and getting after it each week. I'm confident we can tackle Kansas and try for another top 10 - being my first time there, I need to learn the track and be open."
ON HIS FIRST TIME AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY:
"There's a first time for everything, right? I'm looking forward to it, it's a fast track and I like to get wide open. I'll be looking to learn from some of the veteran guys who perform well there, but overall I'm just taking it all in with my crew chief, Bryan Berry. We'll get a lot of data, turn a lot of practice laps and really dial it in. This is the beginning of a good stretch of intermediate races, so how we do here is going to set the tone for our May and June races."
FUN FACTS AND THE SKINNY ON WATERMELON:
"Everybody thinks we have a fun sponsor, and we really do. The National Watermelon Promotion Board has some great resources for families. You can find recipes, fun facts and things to do with watermelon on Watermelon.org. We'll be having fun with the guys in the broadcast booth and media center this weekend with some watermelon facts and figures. For instance, did you know that early explorers used them as canteens? I heard that Michael Waltrip is a massive fan of watermelon facts - so we've been having fun with him on Twitter."