Ross Chastain’s Phoenix weekend has a decidedly different feel

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 04: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, (L) and Trackhouse Racing team co-owner, Justin Marks talk on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 04, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

A year ago this week, Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain was preparing to make his Championship 4 debut at Phoenix Raceway after a sensational headline-making rally the week before in the Martinsville, Va. cutoff race.

The 30-year-old comes to Phoenix Raceway this week, however, ranked ninth in the championship standings, 21 points behind eighth place Chris Buescher and 36 points behind Buescher’s Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing teammate Brad Keselowski. The driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet won at Nashville this summer, has nine top-five finishes and his 483 laps led on the year is seventh best among all drivers.

There is a decidedly different feel this championship week, but one that Chastain said has only motivated him more.

“I haven’t really looked back, just been week-to-week because there’s only one off-week all year,” Chastain said. “There’s definitely a lot of times as we’re preparing that I’ve flashed back and remember last year because last year was the first in a lot of firsts for me, lot of first time competing week in and week out, first time in Playoffs, first time with all those nerves and all those things. So, this year I was having some flashbacks, even this weekend I had flashbacks since I flew out here about what I went through last year and the difference is this year is really just observing, not getting too excited or too down, just observing what I did last year and what I did this year.”