Another domino has fallen in the NASCAR silly season free agency. Ross Chastain has been tapped to drive the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing. Chastain has been with the organization since 2018 as a development driver and is currently competing for a championship in the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing.
"I can't thank Chip enough for this opportunity," said Chastain in a release. 'Racing in the Cup Series with a serious contender has always been my goal, and I'm looking forward to joining what is a very strong team. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I'm ready to get to work and help bring more success to the organization."
Chastain ran three races for CGR in the Xfinity Series back in 2018. In those three races, he had a first and second place finish in addition to qualifying on the pole. He was set to race full-time for the team in 2019 at the same level but was unable to do so after sponsor DC Solar was shut down by the FBI for its involvement in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
"Ross Chastain is a great addition to Chip Ganassi Racing," Chastain's future teammate Kurt Busch said in a statement to CBS Sports. "I have watched his relentless pursuit to make it to the top level of Nascar, and I know he will continue to give everything he has to win! Chip likes winners!"
Chastain, 27, is set to replace Matt Kenseth, who has been driving in place of Kyle Larson after Larson was released for using a racial slur in an iRacing event in April. Chastain's deal came together fairly quickly. Back in August, he noted that he had not talked to Chip Ganassi about 2021 and that he hoped to not be farming watermelons. Chastain is known as the 'Melon Man' due to his family's watermelon farming business.
Part of the reason Chastain did not know his future was because the team had offered Bubba Wallace the ride first. Wallace, who announced he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, reportedly did not answer Ganassi and thus the offer was taken off the table and presumably given to Chastain.
It is still unclear as to where Wallace will race next season, but industry rumblings suggest Denny Hamlin is working to buy a charter with Toyota backing and feature Wallace as the driver. Two teams that have been floated are Germain Racing and Gaunt Brothers Racing.
"I think there's several different sides of management that I'd like to be a part of when it comes to NASCAR," Hamlin said on Saturday with regards to potential team ownership. "Everything just has to line up perfectly for me to even remotely consider it."
The No. 42 was one of the most coveted free agent rides in this silly season period. However, the biggest seat of them all has yet to be filled and that's the No. 48 at Hendrick Motorsports, which will be vacated when Jimmie Johnson retires at the end of the season. While its possible a driver like Wallace could fill that vacancy, other big names looking for Cup rides include Larson and Erik Jones.