No matter what journey you take in life, it is inevitable that you will come across various roadblocks and obstacles. Whether it is things that pop up at work or at home, there is always a way to push through and make it to the other side of whatever stands in your way.
The same sentiment holds true for professional athletes. There are many instances in sports where either a team or an individual has had to overcome tremendous adversity in order to reach the pinnacle of their career or season. We’ve even seen some of those instances right here with some of the most iconic sports figures in Miami.
Of course, there’s the 2005 Miami Heat who showed perseverance in the NBA Finals as they came back from an 0-2 hole to capture the franchise’s first title. It isn’t always on the court, however, that players face adversity. Alonzo Mourning, who was with the Heat for that title run, missed the entire 2002 season with a kidney disease that forced him to retire early. After receiving a kidney transplant and battling to get back into shape, Mourning was able to unretire and help the Heat win a championship.
In NASCAR, we’ve also seen many drivers overcoming hardships. As the host of Ford Championship Weekend, Homestead-Miami Speedway has naturally been the place where many of these storylines culminated. Whether it was Kyle Busch missing 11 races with a broken leg and returning to win the championship in 2015 or Martin Truex Jr. being forced to find new team after new team until he became a champion in 2017, we have witnessed some of the most incredible journeys in our sport.
While it hasn’t led to a championship like the aforementioned examples, one of the most fascinating storylines to watch over the last year or so in NASCAR has been the career of Ross Chastain. A native of Alva on the west coast of Florida, Chastain has begun to make a name for himself recently.
Of course, a big part of Chastain’s story starts with him always finding a way to barrel through any obstacle in his way. His racing dreams began on his family’s watermelon farm in Florida, where he used to think being a race car driver was impossible. On many occasions, he’s mentioned how he never thought he’d make it all the way to NASCAR.
Getting into NASCAR was one thing, but like many talented drivers, Chastain struggled to find a full-time ride in any of NASCAR’s three national series. In 2014, Chastain thought his career may be over for the first time as he lost his ride with Ricky Benton Racing just two races into the season and wasn’t able to race again until the final race of the season at his home track right here in Homestead.
Chastain refused to give up his dream after the season and eventually landed a full-time ride with JD Motorsports, where he started to gain attention last season by becoming the first JD Motorsports driver to reach the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
Ross’ determination and hard work paid off as Chip Ganassi Racing offered Chastain the opportunity to driver three Xfinity races in their No. 42 Chevrolet, one of the most competitive cars in the series. Chastain seized the moment, leading 270 laps during the three races and winning his first career NXS race.
So after the 2018 season, it was a really special moment when Chastain signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to run full-time in the Xfinity series. I immediately thought that we may be seeing Chastain competing for the NXS championship at our track in November.
But right before the start of the season, Chastain’s career hit yet another roadblock as his sponsor, DC Solar, underwent legal trouble and forced Ganassi to shut down their Xfinity program for the season. As Ross’ world got turned upside down, he pieced together a number of rides, and this season has become the only driver to run every race in all three of NASCAR’s national series.
Of course this all leads to last weekend when Chastain won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway. As Chastain displayed some of the rawest emotion I’ve ever seen in Victory Lane, it really reminded me of Truex’s championship in 2017 and the tears he shed as he hoisted the trophy. Similar to Truex, Chastain stood in Victory Lane and talked about how he thought his career might never be the same after losing his original NXS ride for this season.
And even though he doesn’t like being called the underdog or the comeback kid, Chastain acknowledged how he’s learned from his career path and how it’s helped him become a better driver. To me, he certainly seemed hungry for more wins and that he would stop at nothing to achieve this goal.
So as Chastain’s career continues to progress no matter what difficulties he faces, let him be a lesson that despite any problems that get in your way, you can always accomplish the dreams you set out for.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Saturday, May 18 at 8:00 PM (ET)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
The NASCAR Xfinity Series is off this weekend and will return to action May 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Friday, May 17 at 8:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Fast Lane Friday
Florida Motorcycle Road Racing Association (FMRRA)
Formula and Automobile Racing Association (FARA)
May 31 Xtreme Xperience
2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Ford EcoBoost 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race
Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race
Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship