Ross Chastain declares for Truck Series driver points, will race at Texas

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With eight of 23 races already complete in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, Ross Chastain has declared for Truck Series driver points, switching from the Xfinity Series, and will attempt to compete for the Truck championship, Niece Motorsports announced Tuesday.

Chastain won the May 10 Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway and has finished in the top 10 in every race so far.

But the Kansas win does not lock Chastain into the playoffs. After spotting his competitors eight races, he will start with zero points, will have to win again and then be in the top 20 in points to guarantee himself a spot in the playoffs.

With eight races left in the Truck Series regular season, Jesse Little, who has only made five starts, is currently 20th in the Truck standings with 91 points.

Section 17.6.d in the Truck Series rulebook states any driver who is allowed to change their points declaration “will forfeit any driver points earned up to that point (in another series) and start at zero points” in that series.

Chastain was 13th in the Xfinity Series following Saturday’s race at Pocono. Twelve drivers make it into the Xfinity playoffs. Chastain was 23 points behind the cutoff spot with 14 races left in the regular season.

Chastain has also competed in every national NASCAR series race this year across all three series, totaling 34 starts.

That streak will continue Friday night when Chastain drives the No. 38 Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports at Texas Motor Speedway. TJ Bell Jr. was originally entered in the truck.

The Texas race is the first of three consecutive races that are being labelled as the “Triple Truck Challenge,” with individual race winners being awarded $50,000. A driver could earn $500,000 if they win all three races.

Only drivers earning Truck Series points are eligible for the program.

“After much consideration and many conversations, I’ve decided to pursue championship points in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, effective immediately,” Chastain said in a press release. “This shift will allow me to be in the truck race this weekend in Texas, and I’m grateful to everyone at Niece Motorsports for giving me this opportunity.”

Chastain will continue to compete for JD Motorsports and Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series where sponsorship has been “solidified.” He is set to compete in three more races for Kaulig Racing.

“I know this is the best decision for me at this time and am thankful for everyone who has and will continue to support me moving forward into 2019 and beyond,” Chastain said.

Chastain drove the No. 45 Chevy in the first eight Truck races of the year. Kyle Benjamin will drive it this weekend.

“I know it won’t be easy, but I believe this team is capable of making the playoffs and competing for a championship with Ross,” team owner Al Niece said in a press release.  “We are proud to bring trucks capable of winning to the race track. It takes a lot of work to get there and we don’t take it lightly. We’re ready to see what the next eight races bring.”