Ross Chastain, driver of the #4 for JD Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and part-time competitor in the #15 Monster Energy Cup Series car for Premium Motorsports, stopped by Reddit’s /r/NASCAR forum on Tuesday to answer various questions in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, ranging from his Cup ride to his ideal Xfinity track.
“Most people would be surprised how normal I am,” Chastain stated. “It’s hard to portray that in the media without being unprofessional.”
In a question about who he supported growing up, Chastain replied four-time champion Jeff Gordon, while adding his father helped him get into racing when he was 13. When prompted about which drivers had helped him when he first entered stock car racing, he pointed to Steve Dorer and Todd Bodine. Dorer, a fellow Florida resident, is a late model short track racer. Bodine is a two-time Camping World Truck Series champion; he and Chastain raced in the series together from 2011 to 2013.
In regards to Truck racing, Chastain spoke positively of his first full-time season in the series in 2012 with SS-Green Light Racing, praising team owner Bobby Dotter and commenting that he lived in the team shop. On the other hand, he said his biggest regret would be not accepting a ride at ThorSport Racing in 2015. While he does not specify which truck he was offered at the then-Toyota team, it is likely he is referring to the #13 team, which was vacated by Jeb Burton after the 2014 season. With Chastain instead joining JD full-time in 2015, Cameron Hayley took over the #13. A user wanted to know how he received a chance to drive for JD, to which he answered he had been contacted by team owner Johnny Davis after competing against his drivers in 2014.
On the Cup side, Chastain stated he intends to run every companion event that the Cup Series shares with the Xfinity Series in 2018, provided he remains contracted with Premium. When asked about the positives regarding working with Premium and racing in the top series in addition to a full-time Xfinity campaign, he answered the ability to “learn from guys like (crew chiefs) Pat Tryson and Todd Parrott” and helping him gain experience to compete in the lower series, respectively. He also described the differences between a Cup and Xfinity car as the former having more sensitive gas and brake pedals. Chastain joined the team for two races in 2017, and has run five races for Premium in 2018. In five events so far, his best run is twenty-seventh at ISM Raceway. In his Cup debut at Dover International Speedway, he recorded his best career finish of twentieth; “[r]unning 20th and being competitive was a dream come true,” Chastain commented. “10/10 would do again.”
One user was curious about when he would commit to full-time Cup racing. Chastain stated his intention is to focus on making the Xfinity playoffs before deciding to move up to the premier series.
In a question asking which track he would like to see be added to the Xfinity schedule, Chastain answered Martinsville Speedway. The track last held a second-tier series race in 2006, the Goody’s 250. Won by Kevin Harvick, the race marked the final NASCAR starts for NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and veteran Ricky Craven, who finished twenty-eighth and thirty-ninth, respectively. Chastain raced at the track six times during his Truck Series career, recording two top tens. In his first Cup race at the track on Monday, he finished twenty-ninth. One user later asked which tracks on the circuit he felt were his strongest and weakest (Dover and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, respectively).
When asked if he would wreck his teammates for the win, Chastain declared, “Of course I would. Edit: Sorry, /u/garrettsmithley….” His team-mate in the #0 JDM car responded accordingly: “Message received;)”.
Other motorsports-related questions included pondering about competing in other series like Robby Gordon‘s Stadium Super Trucks and where he would race if he wasn’t in NASCAR. Chastain turned down the former and replied he intends to focus on NASCAR, while saying he would be racing in Florida’s Pro Truck Series if he could not race in NASCAR. A user’s prompt pertained to reporter Jeff Gluck’s “12 Questions” series, in which one of the questions was which NASCAR figure has the most punchable face. Chastain, who was involved in a 2017 incident during the red-flagged Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway in which he punched driver Jeremy Clements, aptly denied comment.
Another Redditor asked if he had ever urinated in his firesuit, which he admitted occurred during the season-ending 2017 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway when he used two IV fluid bags to treat an illness. Describing himself as a driver who “turns left for a living”, he responded in the negative to questions about turning in the opposite direction, including a remark about how he would only turn right if he was mowing the lawn. On the road courses, he mentioned road ringer Andy Lally as “helping” him improve on such courses, particularly Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, by simply following him during practice sessions.
Jokes and questions about sponsor Flex Seal were also aplenty as Chastain described spokesman Phil Swift as “one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He loves his family and his business, and does a kickass job to promote his products.”
One Redditor asked the following: “You’ve been able to contend for a playoff spot in Xfinity while driving for a team with less funding than the rest of the playoff teams, does that give you more confidence that you can show off your talent and earn more sponsorship in Cup opportunities with teams like Premium that also have less funding?”
Chastain denied the possibility with a succinct answer: “No, because we expect to beat them.”
When a user chimed in with a snide remark about how the driver is contributing to pollution by competing in a sport “for the sake of ‘adrenaline rush'”, Chastain remarked, “There are more [trees] in America today than there were 100 years ago.” Evidently, some are unfamiliar with NASCAR’s commitment to protecting the environment through its NASCAR Green program.
A watermelon farmer when he’s not racing, Chastain said he grows approximately 400 acres. He grew up in Alva, Florida, a region that gives the farm and the state an advantage over others as the growing season arrives earlier in Florida. He also had a proclamation for those wishing to buy watermelons from his farm and wondering how to differentiate Chastain-grown melons from others: “All watermelons are created equal.”
“I don’t have a question I’m just a really big fan of watermelon,” one user quipped as Chastain responded, “Same here.”
Chastain currently sits thirteenth in the Xfinity Series points standings with two top-ten finishes and top-twenty runs in all five races.