Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Ross Chastain Just Became Newest Member of This Club

After scoring an emotional win in Friday’s (May 10) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Darlington Raceway, Ross Chastain had a surprisingly quiet Sunday (May 12) afternoon, as he scored an 11th-place finish in the Cup Series’ Goodyear 400.

Finishing 11th is nothing to write home about, especially when Chastain had one of the dominant cars in this race a year ago. But in this particular instance, an 11th-place finish allowed Chastain to become the latest driver to complete the All 40 Challenge.

What’s the All 40 Challenge, you may ask? It’s as simple as it sounds. A driver completes the All 40 Challenge when they record every finish between first and 40th at least once in their Cup career.

In his first 199 Cup starts, Chastain had finished in every possible position — except 11th. That changed on Sunday, and he became the newest member of the club.

Of course, there is no reward for completing the challenge — especially for the drivers that are only missing a finish in the back half of the field. But this is my column and I love stats, so let’s have some fun here.

The All 40 Challenge was originally created by NASCAR’s Steve Luvender, and Chastain became the first driver to complete the challenge since the 2023 Daytona 500, where Chris Buescher and Erik Jones both completed it by recording results of fourth and 37th, respectively.

When including anyone that has made at least one Cup start in the 2024 season, the All 40 club currently consists of 14 drivers: AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Buescher, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Jones, Joey Logano, David Ragan, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.

Now that Chastain has completed the challenge, who else is close to doing so?

Quite a few. Thirteen full-time drivers are only missing a handful of finishes, seven of which are missing just one pesky result.

DriverFinishes Needed
Michael McDowell2
Kyle Larson22
Daniel Suarez39
Austin Dillon40
Chase Elliott40
Brad Keselowski40
Bubba Wallace40
Ryan Preece1, 2
Justin Haley4, 10
Corey LaJoie1, 2, 3
Tyler Reddick17, 37, 40
Christopher Bell25, 30, 37, 40
Chase Briscoe2, 8, 38, 39, 40

The closest to completion? Kyle Larson. He only needs to finish 22nd, and he recently recorded back-to-back finishes of 21st at Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year — close but no cigar.

He’ll never run outside the top 20 on pure pace, but as we’ve seen in the last several weeks, it only takes one miscue or stroke of bad luck to turn a dominant performance into a middling finish. It’s only a matter of time before he records that P22 result.

Michael McDowell has recorded 24 top-10 finishes in 85 starts with the Next Gen car, but only four of those top 10s have been top fives. He only needs a runner-up finish, and he would have the best chance of recording it (or, of course, another win) at a superspeedway or a road course. Improbable, but not impossible.

See also
The Underdog House: Justin Haley Takes RWR to New Heights at Darlington

Justin Haley has five top fives and 14 top 10s in 121 Cup starts, and he’s already completed the podium. A fourth would be the more difficult of the two to achieve, but he’s had top-five performances on occasion. As for finishing 10th, it only seems like a matter of time. After all, he was just one spot away from recording it at Darlington, as he scored Rick Ware Racing’s career-best finish on a non-superspeedway in ninth.

As for all the drivers lacking a dead-last 40th or a finish in the high 30s, it’s far more difficult to achieve than it looks. Since the start of the Next Gen era in 2022, only three races have had the maximum field of 40 cars: the 2022 Daytona 500, the 2023 Daytona 500 and the 2024 Daytona 500.

The 40th-places finishers in those races were Chastain, Ty Dillon and Carson Hocevar, respectively. Chastain’s 40th-place result in the 500 has proved to be the only 40th-place finish of his Cup career, so that one clunker of a day allowed him to complete the challenge this week.

Likewise, there have only been 11 races since the start of 2022 that featured at least 39 cars. That’s better odds for Daniel Suarez (who only needs a finish of 39th), but not by much.

Of the four drivers that only need a 40th-place finish (Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace), three of them had made Cup starts prior to 2016, when the field had a maximum of 43 cars.

Keselowski recorded finishes of 41st and 42nd, Dillon recorded finishes of 41st and 43rd and Elliott recorded a finish of 41st, but none of them were able to reach 40th in that time period or in the years following 2016, where 40-car fields were far more common than they are today.

See also
Stat Sheet: Brad Keselowski Becomes Next Gen's 26th Winner. Who's Next?

With the exception of Larson needing 22nd, the majority of drivers that are close to completing the challenge either need finishes at the very front of the field or finishes at the very rear of the field. And unless we see the return of 40-car fields on a week-in, week-out basis, some drivers will be lacking that one 40th-place result for years — if they even get it at all.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Bill B

It would have never occurred to me to even look for such a stat.

Marc

There should be an amusing award for achieving this, perhaps a miniature scoring tower with the car number that the driver used for the first finish at each position. The first few can be the scoring towers that have been removed from tracks recently.

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