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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 23:  Ross Chastain, driver of the #4 Florida Watermelon Association Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Chastain’s start streak ends at 41

Ross Chastain spent his Sunday like most other Cup Series drivers: Napping (twice), scrolling through Twitter, eating a good lunch and waiting out the rain.

The difference? Chastain was at home watching on TV for the first time this season. The Michigan race, which ended up running Monday, took place without Chastain – snapping an unprecedented streak of 41 straight starts across all three NASCAR national series dating back to the Phoenix Xfinity race last November.

Now he’s noticed the increasing media coverage and fan support and wonders where it might land him. That includes the “Melon Man Challenge” – a term coined by FOX Sports’ Alan Cavanna – which represents his daring Truck Series playoff gamble [to switch to running for Truck Series points last week].

“It sounds silly, but it is pretty incredible what we’re up against,” he said. “With how scared I was to pull the trigger on it, now to actually do it seems like it’s resonating with people, and that’s pretty cool.”

One of those paying attention was warranty company TruNorth, which had a meeting with Chastain and the Niece Motorsports team earlier Monday. It agreed to sponsor the team in this weekend’s race at Iowa and cited the attention Chastain is receiving.

The Athletic
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