The Melon Man is shaking up his schedule for the race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ross Chastain will compete in the NASCAR Cup Series race while also making his return to the Camping World Truck Series.
Niece Motorsports announced the news on March 14 and said that the team would expand to five entries for the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team also provided the first look at Chastain’s returning scheme. The No. 41 will — fittingly — bring back the Eat Florida Watermelon scheme that includes white and red seeds running down the side of the Chevrolet Silverado.
The return to the Truck Series will provide Chastain with two opportunities. First, he will be able to gain more experience at the reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway before he takes on the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Cup Series race. Second, Chastain will have the opportunity to potentially do his signature victory celebration where he smashes a watermelon at the start-finish line.
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Chastain made four Truck Series starts with Niece Motorsports during the 2021 season. He finished seventh at Atlanta and second at Kansas. He initially finished third at Texas Motor Speedway, but officials disqualified him after the No. 45 failed inspection. Chastain rounded out his schedule with a 22nd-place finish at Nashville Superspeedway.
Chastain’s Best Truck Series Season Was With Niece Motorsports
The race at Atlanta Motor Speedway provides Chastain with the opportunity to return to the team with which he has achieved considerable success. He will join forces once again with Niece Motorsports after 39 starts, one full season, and three trips to Victory Lane.
Chastain made his Niece Motorsports debut during the 2018 season when he drove for multiple teams. He made three starts for the team before expanding to a full schedule in 2019. This full-time season was Chastain’s best as a Truck Series driver as he finished top-10 in 19 of the 23 races and secured wins at Kansas Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, and Pocono Raceway.
Chastain secured his spot in the playoffs, and he made it through the elimination rounds with consistent performances, including two runner-ups. He finished fourth in the championship race, but he ended the year second overall behind Matt Crafton, who accumulated two more points. Though Chastain secured Most Popular Driver honors.
Chastain Continues To Make Major Moves
Now a member of Trackhouse Racing, Chastain is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. He has rebounded from issues at Daytona International Speedway (40th) and Auto Club Speedway (29th) with two top-five finishes.
Chastain turned a corner in his season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He made history for Trackhouse Racing by winning the organization’s first stage, and he led a race-high 83 laps. Chastain fought for the win before ultimately finishing third overall behind Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson.
The trip to Phoenix Raceway didn’t feature a stage win, but he stacked points during two stages. Chastain then took part in a fierce battle with Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe during the final run to the checkered flag. He locked up a second-place finish and continued to create conversations about when he will win his first career Cup Series race and smash a watermelon.