There are no superlatives that are superlative enough to describe what Ross Chastain did at Martinsville Speedway during the Xfinity 500, but I will try: No one has ever sent it more. No one has ever gone more flat-out than Chastain. If you don’t watch NASCAR but have ever played a video game you will recognize the desperate move, though I’m not sure this even works in a video game.
Here’s some context from Yahoo! Sports:
Chastain went from 10th to fifth on the final lap of the race by intentionally driving his car into the wall at full speed. He accelerated against the wall through the entirety of Turns 3 and 4 and passed five cars so that he would have a chance to win the 2022 Cup Series championship in the winner-take-all title race at Phoenix on Nov. 6.
Christopher Bell won the race and advanced to the final four with Chastain, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott. Chastain’s move on the final lap eliminated perennial title contender Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was in the final four ahead of Chastain via points until the final two corners.
You follow that? This is the last race before the championship and the only way to get in was for Chastain to get ahead of Denny Hamlin in two turns. The only way to do that was to slam the damn thing against the wall. This Twitter caption tells the story fairly well:
The car in the wall beats all the rest pictured ???? Martinsville needed this pic.twitter.com/G1JQDddcvG
— Storm Lee Kelly (@Storm_L_K) October 30, 2022
Is this allowed? I’m no expert, but it seems to be not-not legal. This is of the “There’s nothing in the rulebook that says a giraffe can’t play football” variety of interpretation.
Denny Hamlin, in the purple-and-blue-and-white #11 Camry is the person who would have been in the final four. Here’s what Hamlin says in the in car:
“I guess we just lost on that…”
Chase Briscoe, who was further back, got a great shot of it and had this reaction:
“If I’d have known that had worked I’d have just done that for the last eight laps.”
Fred Smith, Road & Track’s Motorsports Editor, has perhaps the best take:
I propose a two-step solution:
1. Ban the move so 25 cars don't do it on the last lap next Martinsville race
2. Build a statue of this moment outside the track and call it the "Ross Chastain rule." Really play up that it's banned in a good way.
— Fred Smith (@FredSmith914) October 30, 2022
Ignoring the irony of Kyle Larson calling a video game move embarrassing, I am reminded of some Canadian wisdom:
They don’t ask how, they ask how many.
If you’re curious, here’s Chastain explaining it himself:
Top photo via NASCAR