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In a brilliant and courageous "Fast & Furious" move that even Vin Diesel would’ve appreciated, Ross Chastain stunned Race World USA (and Elon Musk’s Twitter) by steering his car into Turn 3 at Martinsville to dramatically amplify his speed and edge past Denny Hamlin for the final spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4. As jaw-dropping a move as it was, several racers chastised Chastain, including Kyle Larson and Joey Logano. But as NASCAR itself pointed out, the move was legal and now, ahead of the big race this Sunday in Phoenix, Logano appeared more curious than critical when given the opportunity to discuss the pivotal moment with the Watermelon Man.
“You didn’t have this planned?” Logano quizzed Chastain at a NASCAR Championship round table conversation that also included Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell, all of whom will be competing for the Bill France Cup on Sunday. “You obviously thought about this for a while – you had to have.”
“I’ve thought about doing this for years, but I’ve never had the reason to actually do it,” continued Logano. “You had a good reason and went for it.”
“I’m telling you man, not – no!” Chastain insisted.
“You just said the heck with it, I’m putting it against the wall?” interrupted an immensely curious Logano.
Grinning ear to ear from Logano’s questioning, Chastain sat back, clearly relishing the moment when Christopher Bell pressed him further about the origin of the idea.
“So, when did you make that decision?” Bell asked. “Coming off Turn 2 taking the white flag?”
“The white flag, [my crew chief Larry] McReynolds said, ‘White flag, you gotta get two.’" Chastain revealed. “And then one and two I keyed up, and I was downshifting, and I’m like, ‘[I] gotta get ‘em? We’re sure, like we’re out, no way?’”
“Because I couldn’t tell where Denny [Hamlin] was at, I didn’t know if you [Bell] were leading, and I’m pretty sure he was like, ‘Yeah, gotta get ‘em,’” continued Chastain. “From that moment, there was never an option of going around the curve – like going around the bottom, I don’t know why.”
“Believe me when I say it,” a smiling Chastain pleaded to Logano.
“That was the first time you thought about it?” Logano pressed.
“At the white [flag],” swiftly answered Chastain.
After Chastain's spectacular, viral finish, which has dominated the conversation within the NASCAR fandom leading up to Phoenix, it's only natural to wonder whether any of his fellow competitors in the Championship 4 will seek to employ the same trick, should circumstances call for it. Logano and Elliott are both racing for their second Cup Series Championships, while Sunday will represent the first appearance in the final race for Bell and Chastain. With everything on the line, saving Chastain’s wall-ride maneuver for the right moment might be too good to pass up this time around.
Can't get enough NASCAR action? Be sure to tune into the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. And catch up on “Race For The Championship,” which follows the lives of NASCAR's biggest stars on and off the track, on Peacock.
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