NASCAR driver Ross Chastain’s first love is watermelons, not checkered flags. The eighth-generation Florida watermelon farmer may be best known for his “Hail Melon” maneuver he pulled off on the final lap at Martinsville last season to get into NASCAR’s “Championship Four.” Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp even embodied the legendary Jack Buck when asked to describe his reaction by saying, “I don’t believe what I just saw.” Chastain’s wall-hugging style around the final turn will now result in a penalty from NASCAR after some of his fellow competitors thought the trick was both dangerous and not in the spirit of fair competition.
Tharp and Chastain were guests of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Wednesday to unveil something else quite close to Chastain’s heart: safe driving. Darlington Raceway and the South Carolina Department of Transportation have teamed up to rename the May 12th truck series race the “Buckle Up South Carolina 200”. A race Chastain will compete in, along with the Xfinity and Cup series events that weekend. The joint initiatives were unveiled during a ceremony at the governor’s mansion in Columbia.
As part of the promotion, Chastain will appear in a pair of public service announcements that will air during the May and September race weekends at Darlington Raceway. According to the track, May’s spots will highlight Buckle Up South Carolina, while the September PSA will feature the SCDPS’ Sober or Slammer campaign.