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NASCAR: Ross Chastain’s Wild Wall Ride 'Certainly Within The Rules,' At Least For Now

NASCAR’s COO Steve O’Donnell says Chastain’s spectacular maneuver was legal, and he doesn't anticipate a rule change before the Cup Series Championship in Phoenix, but the league reserves the right to revisit the issue in the offseason.

By Andrew Woodin
Ross Chastain Shares Why He Smashes Watermelons to Celebrate Wins

In case you were busy over the weekend, putting the final touches on your child’s Bluey Halloween costume, you may have missed the drama at Martinsville, which decided who will compete for NASCAR's 2022 Cup Series championship. Let's just say it was an epic spectacle, with Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain sneaking into the Championship Four with a wild wall-ride gambit that has video game enthusiasts rejoicing while earning the ire of some NASCAR stars like Kyle Larson and Joey Logano. Right out of the Ricky Bobby playbook, the move in question saw Chastain, sitting in 10th heading into the final lap and desperate to close the gap on Denny Hamlin in 5th – his only hope of advancing the the Championship in Phoenix – throttle up and deliberately steer his Chevy Camaro into the SAFER barrier in Turn 3 and rim-ride the wall through Turn 3 and Turn 4, catapulting him down the track as he just narrowly edged out Hamlin in the last few feet. Now, with the Watermelon Man’s innovative move on the tip of everyone’s tongue in Race World USA, NASCAR brass has weighed in on the legality of the maneuver.

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RELATED: How Ross Chastain’s ‘Video Game’ Move Powered Him Into The Championship Four

“We’ve seen similar attempts but never successfully, right?” explained NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell on the SiriusXM NASCAR show The Morning Drive. “In our 75-year history, no one has successfully done that, so Ross pulled off a first that we all saw [and] that I don’t think anyone was thinking about.”

“When you saw that, it was like everyone has described, like a video game move, certainly within the rules what he did, and [he] was able to execute it,” O’Donnell continued. “As with anything you see for a first time, you’ve got to take a look. We’ve had a number of discussions internally about that move and what-ifs.”    

Ross Chastain riding the wall during the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500

When he was pressed further about what the league intends to do, O’Donnell left the door open for NASCAR to address the rule in the future, potentially resulting in a different outcome.

“I’ve heard from some [drivers] who said that was the coolest move – ‘Don’t do anything,’” O’Donnell added. “At the end of the day, we recognize we’re the government. It’s our job to make the call. … If you make half the folks happy and half angry, you’ve easily hit the right tone with whatever call. But where we’re at today, we’re going to go to Phoenix, we’re going to race for a championship.”

“We’ll see what happens there in terms of on-track and what’s executable and look over the off season like we always do on all our rules, but at this point, in looking at it, it was a move that was within the bounds of the rulebook, and [we] really don’t think it’s right to adjust the rules when, for 35 points races, we’ve been one way and then throw a wrinkle in it for the 36th.”   

Chastain’s late-race heroics propelled him into turbo mode, allowing him to clock a blazing fast final lap time of 18.845 seconds, a track record. That’s nearly a whopping two full seconds faster than the second best lap time of the day owned by Larson (20.508 seconds) who, ironically, attempted and failed the same wall-riding type of move at Darlington at 2021.

Now that NASCAR’s cleared the road for other drivers to mimic the Watermelon Man’s video game play, the other Cup Series drivers joining Chastain in the championship hunt – Chase Elliott, Logano and Christopher Bell – all might want to grab the closest Playstation controller and freshen up on those cheat codes because. But then again, there's no guarantee that down, up, up, triangle, circle, circle, square will work this time around.

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