Ross Chastain, an eighth-generation melon farmer, has been crushing watermelons more than cultivating them recently, which suits him just fine.
Chastain’s NASCAR profession has seen its peaks and troughs, but he has maintained his ties to his family’s watermelon company throughout.
Chastain has become a two-time Cup Series champion, with both triumphs coming within last five races.
Of course, watermelons play a part in his post-victory celebrations, as he stands top his winning car and smashes one on the racetrack, as he did again Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“It does not seem real at all. I keep waiting to wake up from this dream and realize it’s all not what I think I’m living,” Chastain said.
“But I’ve got great groups of people from Trackhouse (Racing), the competition and business side, my family, people in Charlotte and around Moorseville that keep reminding me and keep showing me this is real.
“I’m right where I want to be, and I have the people around me. They keep me remembering and keep reminding me and keep pushing me to make this the best we can make it.”
Isn’t it possible that the greatest is still to come?
In terms of his sports career, the greatest may still be ahead of him.
Although Chastain, 29, has 125 Cup Series begins under his belt, he has only been driving full-time for a great team since joining Chip Ganassi Racing the year before.
Chastain entered Trackhouse Racing when it acquired CGR in the offseason and has helped the new team – co-owned by Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull – win its first two races.
Only Chastain and William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports have won multiple events in the first ten races of the 2022 season, giving him in a strong position to capture his first series championship.
Chastain’s last two Cup victories came on a road course and a superspeedway, a far cry from the small tracks where he brought up in Florida.
“I grew up short-track racing, so I just assumed and thought that was where I was the best. Turning right was hard, drafting was hard,” he said. “I just thought I would never be able to catch up to guys that had been doing it so much longer than me.
“A lot of time and work and really good people surrounding me, we’ve closed the gap. There’s still a long way to go.”
Sharing it with your loved ones
Ralph Chastain, who had missed his son’s triumph at Circuit of the Americas, was in attendance to watch the triumph on Sunday.
“He is the reason that I’m here. He is the reason I fell in love with racing and why I stayed out of, I don’t want to say trouble, but like it gave me an avenue to be successful,” Ross said. “I fell in love with it.
“He didn’t push me early on. I mean, he did, but it wasn’t like other kids we were racing against. I think the way he did it was the perfect way. We had fun racing locally.
“We got to this level, did a few races, kept doing more.”
And now he’s exactly wherever he wants to be, surrounded by watermelons whenever he needs them.
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Ross Chastain, Grand Prix, IndyCar, Nascar, NASCAR Cup Series, XFinity