What we all assumed would be the case has now come to pass, Ryan Newman will not race this week at Las Vegas. Ross Chastain will take over the car in his time away. No timetable is given on when Newman will return.
It was such a relief to see Newman leave the hospital under his own power and almost seem as if nothing had happened to him to begin with. Now that we know he’s okay, it’s time to look towards the future.
Newman at 42, is coming off the most horrific wreck we have had in the modern era of NASCAR. The question has to be asked if he will step into a race car ever again. He’s a man who seems to never turn down a challenge so it wouldn’t be the least surprising if he did choose to return as soon as the doctors cleared him. Seeing the picture of him smiling with his daughters though, it makes you think how could a man sit back down in that seat after such a near miss.
Newman has earned the right to take the time to decide his next chapter. Another man who deserves that same chance is Ross Chastain. Arguably the most underrated driver in the sport.
I want to thank and applaud Roush-Fenway because I was not expecting them to give Chastain this shot. I was expecting to see Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, or Chase Briscoe take over from the Ford camp. They took Chastan out of a Chevy and gave him an opportunity in a Ford. If you don’t know much about him, that should tell you plenty.
Chastain has been searching for a break since he began in NASCAR. He is known for raising Niece Motorsports out of the pits of the Truck Series. A team that has been running since 2016 and has only 3 wins and 29 top tens since then.
All 3 of those wins and 19 of those top tens came from one season with Ross Chastain behind the wheel. Worth noting that Niece Motorsports has had 22 other drivers who never got near the same result.
Chastain has received a big break before. It came in the form of Chp Gannassi giving him a shot in the 42-car in the Xfinity Series. He was given three chances in top tier equipment. His first race he won the pole and led almost the entire race until Kevin Harvick decided to put him into the wall and end Chastain’s day. The next two races he won the first and then came in second in his last outing.
Ganassi was so impressed he offered Chastain a full-time ride in 2019. Then the oddest situation in sports happened, DC Solar, the primary sponsor for the 42-car was shut down by the FBI and pleaded guilty to a Ponzi Scheme. Forcing Gannassi to terminate Chatain’s contract.
If there was ever a driver who needed a break it is this man. Chastain is the best talent that RFR has had behind the wheel of one of their cars since Matt Kenseth, and even if it is only for one race, he will be able to bring the most out of that equipment.
Probably no better track to get this chance with Vegas being the track he has the best average finish on besides Daytona of 14th and it was the one race he won for Chip Ganassi in 2018.
A bold prediction here, if your an RFR fan and have been waiting for their return to Cup Series relevance, Ross Chastain is going to give them the chance this weekend with a top ten finish.