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Daytona 500: How Ross Chastain prepares for four NASCAR races in four days

“You’ve got to be a little crazy to run all three,” Ross Chastain said. He, apparently, is quite crazy.
Ross Chastain prepares to exit his car during NASCAR qualifying at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. [JOHN RAOUX  |  AP]
Ross Chastain prepares to exit his car during NASCAR qualifying at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Feb. 13

DAYTONA BEACH — Of the thousands of people who will flock to Daytona International Speedway this weekend, none will be as busy as Ross Chastain.

The 27-year-old Alva native races tonight in the Duels that will set the lineup for Sunday’s Cup Series opener, the Daytona 500. He’ll race tomorrow night in the Truck Series. And Saturday in the Xfinity Series. And Sunday in the biggest race of them all.

If all goes well, he’ll race 480 laps (1,200 miles), plus practice laps, over four days.

“You’ve got to be a little crazy to run all three,” Chastain said.

But how do you do it, physically and mentally?

Related: NASCAR’s ‘Watermelon Man’ gears up for races

Chastain said he’ll start his mornings with coffee. He’ll eat well and sleep well, even if it means leaving his visiting family members soon after dinner. He’ll jog and do a little strength training, too.

“Nothing crazy,” Chastain said. “Just trying to better myself.”

And to correct himself.

In this July 2019 file photo, NASCAR driver Ross Chastain carries a watermelon at a Walmart in Tampa. Chastain's family grow watermelons at a farm in Punta Gorda. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]

Driving one of these vehicles can be demanding on a body, but it’s more demanding on certain parts. Chastain usually mashes the brake harder than he presses the accelerator. That means driving is more of a workout for his left leg than his right, especially at certain tracks. He’ll try to counter that by doing more weight training with his right leg so it balances out.

“Same thing with my arms,” Chastain said.

Daytona International Speedway is all left turns, which can get his shoulders and arms off-kilter. Chastain corrects that by turning a 20-pound weight to the right to work out the opposite muscles.

“Stuff like that,” Chastain said.

Whatever it takes to finish a crazy weekend at Daytona.

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