Ross Chastain made the pass, or passes in this case, of the century in last Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at the Martinville (VA) Speedway. On a day that passing proved to be difficult, Chastain took matters into his own hands on the final lap of the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race.
The 29-year-old, eighth generation watermelon farmer, was in 10th place exiting Turn 2. When told he needed to make up two spots and not cars realistically in site to gain them, he used a maneuver that he saw in an old video game when he was 8 years old.
“I think the first time I ever saw a race car do that was on a video game, the GameCube 2005 console,” Chastain admitted on Sunday. “I don’t know if anybody else in the world had those. My brother Chad beat me doing it at the fictitious I think it was Dodge Raceway somewhere in a fake city, somewhere in Florida.
“I never thought about it. Our prep this week, it never crosses my mind. I’ve done a lot of sim work this week, a lot of iRacing, a lot of stuff, laps here virtually. Never once did it cross my mind or ever try it. I want to make that clear. The last time would have been a long time ago before I was even thinking about being a NASCAR driver. It flashed back in my head on the white flag, and I double-checked off of two. Like, through one and two I thought, I think we need two spots. They said, Yes. If it wrecks, okay, we don’t it make it. It might not work, but I’ll try it.”
Chastain dropped the hammer or so to speak when he upshifted into fifth gear, mashed the throttle and aimed his No. 1 Chevrolet directly at the Turn 3 wall.
” I’m an organ donor so maybe they’ll study it one day,” Chastain said on his thoughts at that moment.
He had no clue if a video game move would work in real life but he was willing to take the risk.
“I thought why not?” he said. “That’s a motto that some buddies and I have back home. We live by ‘why not?’ To apply that to the Cup Series in this scenario, there are rules. There are a lot of rules out here.
“I didn’t know how it would all work out. I didn’t know if the physics would work to make it around the corner.”
It did. Chastain went from 10th to 5th less than half of a lap in a move that mimicked a video game. However, while the video has been circulated millions of times, some wondered if NASCAR needed to step in and make an example of this and not allow it again.
Kyle Larson said it was embarrassing. Some said it make NASCAR looked amateurish. Others warned that what would stop other drivers from doing this again in the future?
“I think all of us have done it on some video games, whatnot. He executed it well. Curious to see what kind worm hole that opens up at the end of these races going forward,” Chase Briscoe said.
This weekend’s season finale at Phoenix is being brought up as a particular spot that it could occur again. If you’re the second or third placed driver in the Championship 4 and the leader is in sight, don’t you have to do what Chastain did in Martinsville?
Would anything less look like you’re not trying as hard or willing to do whatever that it takes to get the job done like Chastain did? Don’t you owe it to your team like he did to at least take matters into your own hands and do everything necessary to try and win in a Cup championship?
“As spectacular as it was, as much as it worked, the problem is now the box is open, right?” said Joey Logano “Now every Xfinity race, every Truck race, every Cup race, no matter the track, this wall riding is going to be a play. That’s not good. That’s not good.
“I mean, it was awesome, it was cool. It happened for the first time. There’s no rule against it. There needs to be a rule against this one because I don’t know if you want the whole field riding the wall coming to the checkered flag.
“I don’t know if it’s the safest thing for the driver or the fans when you have a car right up at the wall hauling the mail like that. What if that fence, gate, wasn’t closed all the way? What if it was bent and caught his car? That’s a big risk that Ross was willing to take. God bless him, that’s awesome.
“I don’t think we need to do that every week.”
His teammate Ryan Blaney noted that he saw the move and said why not do that every week?
“I just saw it and I guess I wish I should have done it. I guess we’ll all start doing it now coming down to the end of the race,” he says.
Could it happen next week for a championship?
“That’s why I’m saying we probably need to do something about it before next week,” Logano said. “Like I said, the box is open now. It’s going to continue to happen until we do something about it.
“Yeah, I mean, Phoenix presents the opportunity for it, too. A little different entry point and all that. But, yeah, when you’re going for a championship, you’re probably going to do it.
“You’re leading going into the last corner, you’re going to put it in the wall? Geez. It’s cool, it happened once, we don’t need to make this a thing.
“We can’t make it a thing. I mean, hey, the first time it happens, that’s pretty awesome. I mean, if that don’t make SportsCenter’s top 10 plays, I don’t know what does. Race into a championship, that’s crazy.
“I haven’t really talked to Ross. I don’t know how he feels about it. You think about getting bounced off the wall like that, your head is bouncing around like crazy. You touch the fence, there’s no suspension between the car and the fence. You know what I mean? It’s really rough if you start riding the wall like that.
“Like I said, we need to do something about it. It was awesome. If we did it every week, it wouldn’t be very professional at all. But since this is the first time, hey, more power to him.”
Logano warns that it’s not just about the championship, you could literally do this move at any track.
“It can happen anywhere. We’ve seen it happen at Darlington. It has nothing to do with the composite body. The body actually looks pretty good on the thing after doing that. The car doesn’t look that bad (smiling).
“You never need it to run another lap once you commit to do that. You can do that with a steel body, too, because you’re never going to do it again so… Yeah, body had nothing to do with it.”
Are they wrong? Do we want to see this happening again? I mean the first time was a site to behold but doesn’t it look less and less classy each time we do it after?
That’s why it blew up so big was because it was a move that we’ve never seen before. When they come back to Martinsville, why wouldn’t 2nd place try this maneuver. It clearly works. Why not 3rd? What not 4th? Hell, why not the leader to ensure someone from behind doesn’t try it?
Would you really wreck yourself while leading to win? Think of how crazy that sounds. Which is why some were asking NASCAR to step in. On Tuesday, NASCAR made it clear that they instead won’t step in.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, came onto SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday morning to discuss the move. He said it was well within the rules and didn’t think another addition to the rule book was needed.
“As with anything you see for a first time, you’ve got to take a look,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve had a number of discussions internally about that move and what-ifs. That’s within the rules, and believe that is where we’ll be for Phoenix, as well, and then something we can evaluate in the offseason.”
“At this point in looking at it, it was a move within the bounds of the rule book and really don’t think it’s right to adjust the rules when for 35 points races we’ve been one way and throw a wrinkle in it for the 36th (race).”
[…] question is, it was super cool that time. What happens when it happens on a regular basis? Looks like there is currently no appetite for a rules change until the off season. I think this is […]