Ross Chastain made maybe the most memorable racing move of our lifetimes at NASCAR's Martinsville race on Oct. 30. He plowed into the wall and, eventually, Cup Series championship contention with a trick he'd only ever tried before on a Nintendo Gamecube. There are concerns that others will try the same maneuver again, and even though NASCAR said it won't make a rule that forbids the hail mary pass in the future, Chastain has no plans of replicating it in his career.
Taking the longest possible route around a short oval turn isn't exactly a joyride, as Chastain told Fox's RaceHub show prior to Sunday's season finale at Phoenix.
“A lot of people have asked if I would do it again, or am I looking at other tracks [to do it], and I was in the car, I don’t care to ever do that again,” Chastain explained. “It wasn’t like I had one big hit, but I had the longest wreck that I’ve ever felt because it was just sustained all around the corner with the g-loads.”
As Chastain's onboard telemetry shows, his No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro made initial contact with the wall at 130 miles per hour. He kept the throttle pegged and ran in fifth gear while no one else ever went past fourth for the entire race, according to fellow Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez. He rammed his way into fourth place, putting him in position to fight for the Cup Series title along with Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, and Chase Elliott.
Logano went on to win the final race and his second Cup championship at Phoenix, though Chastain came runner-up in the points standings with a P3 to cap off his season. He was true to his word and didn't try the move again, though he said there was talk amongst the team leading up to the 312-miler. The Phoenix track is about twice the size of Martinsville when it comes to lap distance, so a copy-paste approach probably wouldn't have worked anyway.
"They asked if I wanted to, I think Daniel tried it, I had no intentions,” Chastain added. “I had some other guys tell me about how they would have to downshift and do different things.
“I'm telling you, like, you can lay it into that wall as easy as you want to. You're still driving a 3,500-pound race car into a steel wall at a high rate of speed. It is not pleasant and not something I want to do just in general."
Chastain may never try it again, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else make a last-ditch effort at one of the short ovals next year and beyond. If that's the difference between a huge payday and, well, the opposite, it only makes sense. Maybe that's when NASCAR will have to make a strict evaluation.
Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: [email protected]