WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — A camper, a Greyhound bus and an SUV. No, this is not the beginning of a joke.
Those were the modes of transportation Ross Chastain used to go from New York to Ohio and back to New York to compete this weekend at Watkins Glen International.
“It’s normal,” Chastain told NBC Sports on Friday at Watkins Glen after completing his journey and two sessions of Xfinity practice.
“Not normal for a driver but normal for me. I don’t fit in with a lot of these drivers. Yes, this is hectic.”
But normal for NASCAR’s busiest driver — Chastain has competed in 50 of the 55 NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series races this year.
His hectic schedule started after last weekend’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway. He made the 160-mile-plus trip with his girlfriend and their two dogs on Sunday night and did appearances Monday and Tuesday in the Watkins Glen area. He left the camper to use it this weekend.
So he needed to get to Eldora for practice Wednesday. Simple, book a flight. Right?
“I was scared of the commercial flights, you couldn’t find anything under $700, $800, and I’m pretty cheap when it comes to that stuff,” Chastain said. “And you had a layover, and I was scared of delays and whatever. I don’t like to fly commercial on practice day. If you miss practice, you could upset your career. People think you’re not taking it serious.”
So, how to get from the Finger Lakes region to Western Ohio?
Chastain and his girlfriend boarded their dogs and took a Greyhound bus from Ithaca, New York, to Columbus, Ohio.
“I knew if something happened (with the bus), I could Uber somewhere and get a car,” Chastain said.
“I just didn’t want to drive all night. And I’ve never ridden a bus.”
Now he has.
The bus left at 7:35 p.m. and arrived at the Columbus bus station around 7 a.m. Wednesday.
“I’m glad I did it,” Chastain said. “I would do it again. It was cheap, quiet, the ride was smooth.”
Chastain’s father, who was traveling from Delaware, picked them up at the bus station in the SUV. They headed to Eldora Speedway so Chastain could compete in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race there. Chastain’s mom and brother flew up from Florida to watch Chastain race.
Chastain finished 12th in his first race on a dirt track. He, his girlfriend and family loaded into the SUV around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Chastain slept as his family drove through the night to Watkins Glen.
About five miles from Watkins Glen International, a right rear tire went flat.
They pulled over, put the spare on and were on their way about 20 minutes later.
Finally, this journey was over.
So what about after this weekend?
“We had plans of going straight to Michigan, but I don’t know,” Chastain said. “I have a flight reserved to go (home to North Carolina). We’ll see. Honestly, I haven’t made my mind up.”