DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — On the eve of the 2023 season opening weekend for NASCAR, Trackhouse has locked in both of their current drivers for the next several years.
On Wednesday, it was announced that they’ve come to terms with Daniel Suarez to remain in the No. 99 Chevrolet. A day later, it was Ross Chastain’s turn.
Trackhouse Racing and NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain announced a multiyear driver agreement today that will keep the 30-year-old Alva, Florida, native behind the wheel of the Justin Marks-owned Chevrolet team.
“It’s taken a lot of years, a lot of hard work and sacrifice, plus a lot of help from a lot of people, but I can safely say I have found a home at Trackhouse Racing,” said Chastain, who won two races and finished second in the 2022 Cup Series Championship.
The eighth-generation watermelon farmer also posted 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes in 2022, and earned the National Motorsports Press Association’s Driver of the Year award.
Marks said after years of toiling in the sport, the motorsports world saw Chastain’s talent rise to the surface in 2022, and he believes even greater success is on the horizon.
“Ross Chastain is the type of driver and type of person we want representing Trackhouse Racing, our employees, and our corporate partners,” Marks said. “You saw what Ross did with us in just our first year together and we think the future is even brighter. He brings a determination, dedication, and commitment to his job on and off the track that uplifts everyone in our shop. I’m proud he is part of our organization.”
Chastain earned the “Melon Man” nickname for his family’s history in the watermelon farming business where Chastain continues to work when his schedule allows. Chastain’s signature move after a race win is to spike a watermelon at the finish line and eat the biggest piece left.
He did that after winning a scintillating three-wide battle at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 27, and again at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in 2022 after prevailing in a multicar, last-lap melee on April 24.
His wall-riding move on the final two corners at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October saw him pass two cars and claim the final spot in NASCAR’s Championship 4 playoffs and will forever be part of NASCAR’s greatest moments. The move, nicknamed the “Hail Melon,” drew global praise and recognition as the video eclipsed more than 225 million views and the event garnered 1.2B impressions.
Chastain begins his third full season of Cup racing in 2023 at the season-opening Daytona 500 race on Feb. 19, but success hasn’t come easy for Chastain.
Chastain joined Trackhouse Racing full-time in 2022 after Trackhouse purchased the NASCAR assets of Chip Ganassi Racing, where Chastain was racing in 2021.
During his brief Cup career of 101 races, Chastain had driven for Premium Motorsports, Spire Motorsports, and Roush Fenway Racing before he was signed to a full-time ride driving the No. 42 Camaro with Ganassi in 2021.
Before his Cup Series career, Chastain scored two career victories in the Xfinity series (Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018 and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2019) and four wins in the Craftsman Truck series.
Chastain began his racing career at the age of 12 at Punta Gorda Speedway in his home state of Florida, racing in the Fastkid division. At 14, he began racing adults in the Fastruck Series and raced Crate Late Models at age 16. During his short-track racing career, he scored over 50 wins in feature events, including the 2011 World Series of Asphalt Limited Late Model class at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway, winning three of eight events in the series.
His success mirrors his Trackhouse Racing team that was founded in 2020 by Marks, who established the company’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. In October of 2020, Trackhouse announced it would field the No. 99 car in the NASCAR Cup Series with Daniel Suárez. Trackhouse Racing formed an operational alliance with legendary Richard Childress Racing and the team operated out of Welcome, North Carolina. In January of 2021, Trackhouse announced Armando Christian Perez (a.k.a. Pitbull) as a partner and transcendent ambassador.
After purchasing the assets of Ganassi, the team moved its race shop to Concord, North Carolina, and competed as a multicar team for the first time in 2022. Chastain and Suárez combined to win three races and post 21 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes. Both drivers logged top-10 finishes in the season standings – both career bests.