Included in more than a dozen teams testing on April 21 was the No. 92 team of Ricky Benton Racing. But, the driver behind the wheel wasn’t Ross Chastain. It was Scott Riggs.
In January, a joint-announcement between Ricky Benton Racing and Ross Chastain put the Alva, Florida native behind the wheel of the team’s No. 92 Ford at least through Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the fifth race of the year, but after just two races, the tune has apparently changed.
CATCHFENCE.com has learned that Ricky Benton Racing at this time is not scheduled to make the trip out to Kansas Speedway next month for the running of the SFP 250, and that Chastain won’t be in the seat a week later, when the tour heads to the 1.5-mile oval in Concord, North Carolina for round number six.
Instead, Riggs is apparently the leading candidate to drive for the Cerro Gordo, North Carolina-based team. Riggs drove eight races for the organization in 2013 with a best finish of ninth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last October. While the team elected for no official comment at the track, the unexpected driver shuffle is a blow for Chastain and his supporters.
Chastain, 21, who was unavailable for comment has grown immensely popular with fans and his fellow peers alike. And while some would like to think that his family-connection in the watermelon business plays a pivotal role in his popularity, Chastain has instead let his race results speak for themselves. Last season, the Floridian drove for Brad Keselowski Racing, earning two poles, four top-fives and seven top-10s in 14 starts. Despite contending for race wins, the lack of sponsorship dollars kept him from a second year at BKR. Though many were optimistic that his recent allegiance with RBR had the potential to grow.
The season-opening race ultimately ended in a crash, but not before the team’s race performance and a top-10 qualifying effort turned some heads. A month later, the team had a solid outing at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where after starting 13th, Chastain maneuvered a respectable 14th-place finish, putting much belief that this new relationship with time may work.
However, something fell beneath the cracks since then that will keep one of the future stars in this sport on the sidelines, at least for now.
Follow Chris Knight on Twitter @Knighter01.