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NASCAR Addresses Ross Chastain's Video Game-Style Wall Ride In Rule Modifications
NASCAR figured out a way to make what Ross Chastain did at Martinsville Speedway less desirable for other drivers to emulate.
Ross Chastain used a thrilling wall ride maneuver to secure a spot in the 2022 Cup Series Championship Four back in October that left the entire racing community buzzing. Sadly, don’t expect him or anyone else to repeat the move now that NASCAR has officially brought the hammer down ahead of the 2023 season.
Earlier this week, NASCAR announced a few rule modifications that drivers will have to abide by in 2023. The league seized the opportunity to call out the Watermelon Man’s move, which saw him ride the outside wall in the final seconds of a race at Martinsville Speedway to leapfrog five positions. Surprisingly, although he got away with it at the time, NASCAR says it already has a rule banning such actions and will therefore not issue any new language addressing the situation.
Instead, it will recommit to enforcing a rule that’s already on the books, specifically, rule 10.5.2.6.A. It demands all drivers mind their safety and the safety of their competitors at all times.
“Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis,” the language reads.
Officials called out Chastain’s move at Martinsville directly and stated a time penalty will be issued to any vehicle that attempts something similar in the 2023 season and beyond.
“Basically, if there’s an act that we feel that compromises the safety of our competitors, officials, spectators, we’re going to take that seriously," NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, said. “And we will penalize for that act going forward. Basically, what it would be is a lap or time penalty at the end of the race, so that move at Martinsville would be a penalty.”
New rule modification and safety concerns aside, there’s no denying that Chastain’s wall ride absolutely enthralled spectators. Entering the final lap at 10th place, Chastain was desperate to score enough points to make it to the next stage of the Cup Series playoffs. He turned and hugged the wall with the throttle wide open during the final moments of the last lap, allowing him to zip right by Denny Hamlin and go from tenth to fifth position in the blink of an eye, cementing his place in NASCAR's Championship 4.
The clip of the final seconds of the race went viral even outside NASCAR circles, with many comparing it to something one would find in a video game. In fact, Chastain later stated he first came up with the idea for the wall ride when he was 8 years old and playing a racing game.
Cameras filming the USA Network original series “Race For The Championship” captured the moment Chastain’s pit crew saw what happened, as well as audio of him talking to them afterward, still in shock at what he was able to accomplish.
Still, fellow drivers Kyle Larson and Joey Logano weren’t shy about calling Chastain out at the time for introducing a potentially unsafe method of driving into the conversation and potentially showing future competitors that it’s a viable option to secure a win. However, with this new announcement by NASCAR, it seems that won’t be the case.