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Ross Chastain Picks Up Surprise Victory in Kansas

Leads Final Two Laps As Race Leader Runs Out Of Fuel
Saturday, May 11, 2019

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Ross Chastain wins at Kansas
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Elation and heartbreak were barely more than a lap apart when Ross Chastain took the checkered flag to win Friday night’s Digital Ally 250 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway.

Chastain took the lead on Lap 165 of 167 after Stewart Friesen ran out of fuel-the result of a miscommunication between the driver and crew chief Trip Bruce. Chastain crossed the finish line .483 seconds ahead of runner-up Ben Rhodes to secure his first victory in the series in his 66th start and the first for Niece Motorsports and owner Al Niece.

Friesen, on the other hand, rolled home in 15th, a lap down and a study in frustration as a first victory in the Truck series continued to elude him.

For Chastain, the victory was a welcome vindication after his rags-to-riches-to-rags story of 2018. With superb performances in limited NASCAR Xfinity Series action with Chip Ganassi Racing last year-including a victory at Las Vegas-Chastain earned a full-time ride in Ganassi’s No. 42 Chevrolet for 2019, only to lose it when the team’s sponsorship collapsed.

Ross Chastain beats Ben Rhodes to win at Kansas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

"Aw, man, this is what sports is all about," Chastain said, barely able to contain his emotions. "We had the world by the tail last fall, and everything got taken away from us. We didn’t quit, though … I’m going to celebrate this one a lot more than I did the last one.

"I thought, after the last one (in Las Vegas), they were going to come a lot more easy. But it’s not easy … I hate to see Stewie lose one like that. I know he’s been trying to win, but, yes-we got it!"

“When we started this team a few years ago, I could have never imagined that we’d be standing in victory lane tonight,” said team owner Al Niece.  “I’m so proud of the hard work by everyone at this organization, and grateful to Ross for being a part of the team.  His talent is incredible, and I truly feel that the sky is the limit for this team.”

The win is the first for the veteran-owned team Niece Motorsports, in just its third fulltime season of competition.  Chastain and crew chief Phil Gould have had a strong start to the 2019 season.  Chastain is the only driver to finish in the top-10 in each of the first seven NGOTS races of the season.

“We dedicate this win to Officer Jordan Sheldon of the Mooresville Police Department,” said General Manager Cody Efaw.  “This was a total team effort.  I’m proud of every single member of this team.  We are a small organization, so I can honestly say that every person contributed to this win.  When I started working for Al three years ago, I never could have imagined we’d be here today.  It’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of long nights, so we’re certainly going to enjoy this one.”

Friesen came to pit road for his final stop under green on Lap 126 but left his stall after taking right-side tires only on a planned four-tire stop. Though Friesen had a lead of more than five seconds over Grant Enfinger when he got back up to speed, the shortness of the pit stop didn’t allow the crew to fill the fuel cell.

Friesen’s chances looked better when the third-place truck of Brett Moffitt got loose under Enfinger’s Ford and cut Enfinger’s right rear tire, forcing both trucks to pit road for unscheduled stops. And when the No. 33 Chevrolet of Josh Reaume stopped on the track on Lap 146 to cause the sixth and final caution, Bruce figured Friesen had enough fuel to finish the race.

Within three laps of the checkered flag, however, Friesen ran out.

"It’s been a dream to race at this level and thanks to all the car owners that have given me a chance after all these years," Friesen said. "I came with nothing but a helmet bag. Just a little miscommunication that we need to work on.

"We just can’t close it. I figured I’d screw up a restart at the end, rather than run out of fuel. They said that we were to the good. I didn’t know we were taking four (tires). I thought for sure we were taking two. Just a lot of silence on the radio. That’s it."

RACE RESULTS

POS
ST # Driver Sponsor/Make laps Led Status
1 6 45 Ross Chastain(i) TruNorth/Paul Jr. Designs Chevrolet 167 5 Running
2 14 99 Ben Rhodes Carolina Nut Ford 167 1 Running
3 5 4 Todd Gilliland JBL/SiriusXM Toyota 167 0 Running
4 7 16 Austin Hill Toyota Racing Development Toyota 167 1 Running
5 21 51 Brandon Jones(i) Chigo/Menards Toyota 167 0 Running
6 1 88 Matt Crafton Ideal Door/Menards Ford 167 8 Running
7 13 98 Grant Enfinger Protect The Harvest/Curb Records Ford 167 47 Running
8 4 24 Brett Moffitt Concrete Supply/Cent. Plains Cement Co. Chev. 167 4 Running
9 11 46 Riley Herbst(i) Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts Toyota 167 0 Running
10 3 18 Harrison Burton # Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 167 0 Running
11 2 17 Tyler Ankrum # May's Hawaii Toyota 167 0 Running
12 17 2 Tyler Dippel # Jersey Filmmaker Chevrolet 166 2 Running
13 16 3 Jordan Anderson Bommarito.com/BG Services Chevrolet 166 0 Running
14 8 12 Gus Dean # OverkillRV.com Chevrolet 166 0 Running
15 10 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar International Chevrolet 166 87 Running
16 23 44 Angela Ruch The Ruch Life Chevrolet 163 0 Running
17 18 20 Spencer Boyd Chevrolet 162 0 Running
18 25 34 Josh Bilicki(i) Chevrolet 160 0 Running
19 9 2 Sheldon Creed # Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet 158 12 Running
20 26 33 Josh Reaume Colonial Countertops Chevrolet 135 0 Transmission
21 28 6 Norm Benning H & H Transport Chevrolet 109 0 Too Slow
22 12 13 Johnny Sauter Tenda Ford 97 0 Running
23 27 0 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet 93 0 Suspension


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