By: Ashley McCubbin
Looking through the NASCAR Cup Series grid, there are a lot of changes coming for the 2021 season with a slew of drivers aligning with different teams. One of those organizations being Chip Ganassi Racing, who will welcome Ross Chastain to the fold next year.
For current competitor Kurt Busch, he feels bringing the NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor in is a great choice.
“He’s a young hard charger, go-getter, (and) his work ethic has never been questioned; we just need to define him a little bit as he’s gaining this Cup Series experience,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Now things that happened in Xfinity, sometimes you have to leave them there and start all over, but he’s a really deserving kid to get this chance. I’m really proud of Ross Chastain and the effort he has put forward from the last five years.”
Chastain has certainly proven himself in the Xfinity Series even with missing out on the Championship 4 this year, with 15 top-five’s and 26 top-10’s despite no trips to victory lane. That doesn’t mean he has not won a race, as he was able to do in 2018 and 2019. However, he ultimately got the ride by catching the attention of NASCAR Nation, utilizing determination and aggressive driving behind the wheel to secure rides in a sponsor-driven sport without necessary having the dollars behind him.
He joins Chip Ganassi Racing at a critical time where they could utilize some improvement heading into 2020. They started the season strong with Kyle Larson, though when he was benched for uttering a slur word, bringing in Matt Kenseth as Busch’s teammate did not go as well as hoped. The past series Cup Champion was only able to score two top-10’s in 31 races.
Busch ultimately carried the banner through 2020, making the NASCAR Playoffs but saw his chances at a title end in the Round of 8. Although he was able to score 19 top-10’s, a lack of performance was shown with it taking until Race No. 30 for him to get his lone win of the season to date.
The team knows they are capable of performing, as evident by Busch being a past champion, and the need to improve for 2021 isn’t lost on him.
“We need Chastain to get up to speed quick and information sharing, identical set-ups or preparation to continue,” he shared. “Hendrick engines knows they’ve got work to do, Chevrolet – the Camaro, we have to do as much as we can in the wind tunnel, and we have to perfect a lot of these little things that kept us out of victory lane this year. A lot of it is on pit road, so we have to get better there, as well.”