A victory or another stellar finish Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway will secure Ross Chastain and his second-year Trackhouse Racing team a spot in the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6.
He’ll bring lots of momentum to this most important race.
He’s driven the No. 1 Chevrolet to second-place finishes the last two weeks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway – the first two races in the three-race Round of 8. At the conclusion of Sunday’s final Round of 8 race in Martinsville, the top four drivers will compete in the winner-take-all title race in Phoenix.
Chastain arrives at Martinsville second in the standings among the eight playoff drivers, just 19 ahead of the final transfer position.
If he advances, it could become the fastest a driver has ever earned a place in the championship race with just 150 career starts, breaking Chase Elliott’s mark of 184 starts when he raced for the title in 2020.
It’s not going to be easy.
The .526-mile, flat Martinsville track in southern Virginia is often crowded and treacherous to say the least. In April, Chastain started 27th and navigated through traffic before finishing fifth – his first top-five finish ever at Martinsville.
He’ll sport the familiar black and red paint scheme of the Moose Fraternity in Martinsville. After practice and qualifying Saturday, Chastain will visit the Moose Lodge in Bassett, Virginia at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The long-time Chastain supporter rode with the 30-year-old Alva, Florida native to victory lane at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April. It marked the No. 1 Chevrolet’s second victory of the season and came just weeks after Chastain won a thrilling three-wide battle in the final lap at Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas for his first career victory.
It’s been a stellar season for Chastain and the Justin Marks-owned Trackhouse Racing team who are competing in their first season together.
Chastain has earned 13 top-fives, 19 top 10s and led 692 laps. He has the most top-five finishes of any driver in 2022 and is tied for the most top-10s with Chase Elliott. In laps led, he ranks third most among his peers.
NBC will broadcast Sunday’s Cup race at 2 p.m. ET.
What are your thoughts on Martinsville being the final race before the Championship race?
“When NASCAR decided on the schedule, it was no accident that Martinsville was going to be the race to get into the Championship 4. We’ve seen year over year, it produces some crazy races. I don’t expect anything different. It’s another place that I am looking for a little bit of speed at. It was challenging to pass in the spring, but we were a car that went from around 27th and drove to fifth, but it took me all race to get there. It’s been high on my list to be better there. We tested there and I am still looking for more speed.”
What do you think about Martinsville this weekend?
“I want to qualify better there this weekend than I did last time. I had us starting pretty deep in the field and it takes a long time to get towards the front of the field there.”
It seems you’re getting everything you can out of the racecar right now and really maximizing its potential.
“Yeah, I’m so proud of the effort of this team and the execution of pit stops. The guys are doing a great job on pit road. We’re checking the boxes and doing what you need to do to run in the Cup Series and put ourselves in contention for wins. The points will stack as up they do.”
Trackhouse Racing and the NASCAR industry suffered a devastating loss last week.
Worldwide Express President Rob Rose died suddenly leaving a void in both the Trackhouse Racing and NASCAR families.
The Dallas-based freight and logistics giant joined Trackhouse in April sponsoring both Ross Chastain’s No. 1 and Daniel Suarez’s No. 99 Chevrolets in several races this year with even greater plans for the 2023 season and beyond.
Chastain won at Talladega this past spring on the same day Worldwide Express announced its team partnership.
Under Rose’s guidance, Worldwide Express’s NASCAR experience began in the Truck Series with Niece Motorsports and then expanded to the Cup Series with Trackhouse. In April, the Texas-based company became the “Official Logistics Partner of NASCAR.”
“Rob was a huge presence and an amazing advocate for Trackhouse Racing,” said Trackhouse founder and owner Justin Marks. “Rob was way more than a business partner or a sponsor, he very quickly became part of the Trackhouse family, attending nearly every race event and becoming a close friend to all of us. He truly enjoyed spending time with all of the Trackhouse employees and was always encouraging them to stay true to who we are.”
The Trackhouse Racing Chevrolets will carry a memorial decal honoring Rose this weekend at Martinsville and at the season-finale in Phoenix.
Trackhouse Racing PR