A new era has begun for Ross Chastain. The Watermelon Man officially made his Trackhouse Racing debut on Wednesday, November 17, at Charlotte Motor Speedway while taking part in a two-day NASCAR Next Gen test.
Trackhouse Racing showed up at the 1.5-mile track with a different test car in the hauler. The Chevrolet Camaro featured the Trackhouse Racing logo but had No. 1 on the doors instead of No. 99. The team then sent it out for some test laps with both Chastain and Daniel Suarez getting seat time.
Wednesday marked the first time that Chastain tested the Next Gen car with Trackhouse Racing. He previously took part in a two-day Goodyear Tires test at Daytona International Speedway in early September, but he drove the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Suarez, on the other hand, took part in the previous Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He drove the No. 99 around the Roval road course while showcasing the new chrome numbers that will be available in 2022.
Chastain Changed Numbers But Kept His Crew Chief
The move from the No. 42 CGR Chevrolet to the No. 1 Trackhouse Chevrolet was a significant change for Chastain, but there was a key factor that stayed the same. He continued working with the same crew chief.
Phil Surgen first broke the news about his and Chastain’s future during an October 25 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Late Shift.” The hosts asked Surgen if he had any news about the 2022 season, and he responded by confirming that he would remain as Chastain’s crew chief.
“I’ll be working with Ross again next year at Trackhouse [Racing] on the No. 1 car,” Surgen said during his appearance. “And everything is starting to come together and gel up for next year right now, and we’re really looking forward to the future.”
The duo finished their first season together with eight top-10 finishes and three top-fives in 36 races. Chastain posted a season-best finish of second at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20 and nearly made the playoffs. He ultimately missed the cut but finished the year 20th in points after working with Surgen.
The No. 1 Team Could Take Part in Crucial Tests on November 18
The laps on November 17 were only Chastain’s first in the No. 1 Chevrolet since leaving CGR, but he will return to the stock car and join Suarez for even more laps on November 18. This second session will give him more experience in the Next Gen car while also providing the crew with an opportunity to test their skills.
According to FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, the teams taking part in the session will try some live pit stops. These limited sessions with the Next Gen cars will take place from 4-5 p.m. ET and feature the teams changing the one-lug, 18-inch aluminum wheels that will debut in 2022.
Kaulig Racing, another Chevrolet team, already provided a brief glimpse at a tire change. However, this stop took place in the garage with the stock car up on jacks. The test on Thursday, November 18, will give the pit crews a preview of their upcoming stops with race wins on the line.