A rule tweak has effectively ended any hope of seeing a repeat of the move dubbed the “greatest in racing”.
NASCAR driver Ross Chastain left greats speechless after his last-lap wall-riding effort at the penultimate race of the season last October saw him book a place in the winner-takes-all finale.
Denny Hamlin was poised to advance to the final four and win the championship race with one lap remaining, but the Trackhouse Racing driver’s effort saw him pass five cars and set a lap record to virtually beat Hamlin to the finish line.
The previous team owner Chip Ganassi, whose old team became Trackhouse, remarked on Twitter, “Simply the Greatest Move in Racing… since Alex Zanardi made “the pass” [sic].”
NASCAR rulemakers stated that Chastain’s action is the precedence in a communication sent to teams ahead of this weekend’s preseason exhibition race in Los Angeles.
“To ensure our competitors do not employ strategies that may compromise the safety of themselves, other competitors or fans, NASCAR will issue a time penalty to any vehicle that attempts an unsafe manoeuvre such as the one performed at Martinsville,” the memo read.
Speaking on the move after the race, Chastain – a seventh-generation watermelon farmer – said he was inspired by a video game.
Wall good things must come to an end. We respect NASCAR’s decision to retire the Hail Melon 🍉 https://t.co/jbC3i5sfs1
— Trackhouse Racing (@TeamTrackhouse) January 31, 2023
nascar may have banned ross chastain’s wall-ride move but they’ll never stop him from shortcutting through the corner jewelry store at the mall
— Steve Luvender (@steveluvender) January 31, 2023
“I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube with [my brother] Chad growing up and you could get away with it,” said Chastain with a wry smile.
“I never knew if it would work. I did that when I was eight years old. I grabbed fifth gear. I asked [my crew chief] off of [turn] two if we needed it and we did.
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“I couldn’t see who was leading. I just made the choice. I grabbed fifth gear down the back and full committed.
THE MOVE THAT SENDS ROSS CHASTAIN TO THE #CHAMPIONSHIP4! pic.twitter.com/67Ku712XZf
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 30, 2022
“Once I got against the wall I basically let go of the wheel and just hoped it didn’t catch the turn four access gate or something crazy. But I was willing to do it.”
Defending champion Joey Logano also foreshadowed the rule tweak coming into place last year.
“I mean, it was awesome, it was cool. It happened for the first time,” he said.
“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 chequered 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.”
The other notable rule tweak would now allow races to continue in light rain on some ovals.
NASCAR has never run in the wet on ovals due to safety concerns regarding the banking at most speedways.
The tracks that will now potentially allow running in the wet include several of the smallest ovals with the least banking – including Martinsville.
The NASCAR season gets underway this weekend with the Busch Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
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