NASCAR Cup Series Star Ross Chastain Enters Utica-Rome Speedway ‘Richie Evans Remembered’ Event

VERNON, NY – NASCAR Cup Series star Ross Chastain is going Northeastern dirt Modified racing.

Chastain, affectionately known as the ‘Melon Man’ for his family’s watermelon-farming roots, will compete at Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, N.Y., on Thursday, July 20 during the ‘Richie Evans Remembered’ Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco event.

Chastain will take part in the 61-lap, $6,100-to-win STSS Modified event as a teammate to reigning track champion Matt Sheppard.

While Chastain, 30, who competes full-time in NASCAR Cup competition for Trackhouse Racing, has entered dirt-track Super Late Model races, he has never turned a lap in a center-steer Northeastern dirt Modified.  

Chastain, of Alva, Fla., forged a connection with Sheppard’s Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s race team via the Delaware-based Givens family, watermelon farmers, growers for Melon 1 and supporters of both Sheppard and Chastain.

The conversation, which included Sheppard and supporter Alfred Hughes, a friend of the Givens, led to Chastain making his Modified debut with the STSS.

The ‘Richie Evans Remembered’ event, celebrating the legacy of Rome, N.Y.’s Richie Evans, a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, coincides with the NASCAR weekend at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., affording Chastain the opportunity.

“I can’t wait to get to Utica-Rome Speedway to participate in the Richie Evans Remembered 61 event with the STSS Modifieds and Matt Sheppard,” Chastain said.

“When the Givens family brought me this opportunity, I had to take advantage of it. Matt runs a first-class program, and I am thankful for the chance to race with some of the best, honoring one of the best, Richie Evans. Although I have never competed in a Northeastern dirt Modified, I am excited to learn and compete before Pocono.”

Chastain will be available to meet fans in the grandstand area from 5-5:30 p.m. He will sign autographs alongside Sheppard before heading back to the pit area to compete.

The ‘Richie Evans Remembered’ program includes the STSS Modifieds paying $6,100 to win, $1,000 for 10th and $610 to start in a River Valley Builders North Region event plus STSS Crate 602 Sportsman battling 30 laps for $2,061 to win in the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region plus the Senior Services Inc. Allstar Slingshots and Junior Slingshots on the inner oval.

Grandstand admission is $28. Seniors (ages 65 and up) pay $26. Kids 11 and under are FREE.

Pit admission is $45 (ages 13 and up), $40 (NASCAR or Utica-Rome Member), $10 for Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children (ages 5 and under).

Gates open at 4 p.m., with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:15 p.m.

A complete information sheet has been posted on the Short Track Super Series website:

Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is and the speedway can be reached by phone at 315.953.4097.  Like Utica-Rome Speedway on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @UR_Speedway.

Utica-Rome Speedway is a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series facility.

To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit, e-mail, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.

The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, FloSports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Rent Equip/Party Central, BDR Speed, Bicknell Racing Products, Ollie’s, Penske Racing Shocks, Wegner Automotive, River Valley Builders, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, DIG Race Products, Velocita-USA, Franklin Products, Design for Vision & Sunglass Central, Belmont’s Garage, Quality Drywall, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Prime MAC Tools, F.X. Caprara Car Companies, Algonkin Motel, Beyea Custom Headers, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH, Electric Neon Custom Signs, Fastline Performance, Flach Performance Products, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Schultz Racing Fuel Cells, Spyder Filters, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO & Wilwood.