NASCAR Cup Series veteran and former champion Kurt Busch said Ross Chastain is the “perfect addition” to Chip Ganassi Racing.
Chastain, 27, will take over the No. 42 Chevrolet beginning next season in a move announced earlier this week. The current Xfinity Series title contender grabs one of the top Cup seats available in silly season, held right now by Matt Kenseth. But Kenseth was never a long-term solution following the firing of Kyle Larson in the spring.
While no stranger to the Cup Series, the 2021 season will be the first time Chastain has competed full-time with a championship-caliber team. He’s also never worked alongside a star teammate like Busch.
“Ross has done an incredible job to race hard and to promote himself and to battle through (with) perseverance,” said Busch. “Some of the sponsorship changes at Ganassi over the years left him somewhat out of a ride with the Xfinity side of things. The kid is one of those true family-man workers that helps with the family business and has this passion for racing. He reminds me a lot of myself and just has true grit and the way that he just keeps pushing and has now landed that first big-time contract.
“I’m very proud of Ross, and I know he’ll bring that same tenacity and drive to the organization as a teammate. And I couldn’t think of a better kid to try to help out to get him established in the Cup Series.”
When he welcomes Chastain into the fold, Busch will go into his third season at Ganassi. Both he and Larson won races in 2019 and qualified for the playoffs, but Busch is winless through 29 races this year. Sunday evening at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch starts the Round of 12 from the 12th seed.
Being a mentor won’t be a new scenario for Busch, though. The 42-year-old has consciously worked to become a leader over the years.
“I figured it was time for some change and to adapt to my age and utilize my experience the best way possible, and that’s to create that level-headedness, to create the leadership/mentor role,” he said. “I feel like, this time in my life it’s greats to give back to young engineers and young crew members to help them come up through the ranks quicker and better and stronger. And so, it’s just a nice fit as well with Chip Ganassi. Racing for a legend like him who has that tenacity and who has that thirst and desire to win every single week.
“There’s only so much room for those big egos, and he helps me moderate mine — that’s part of the combination of why it works so well and being able to deliver good results over there.”