It was unlikely ever to be copied, but now officials have explicitly prohibited the dangerous maneuver.
The epic wall-ride move that Ross Chastain performed last year at the final corner on the final lap of the Martinsville Speedway cut-off race has now been officially banned by NASCAR, reports Motorsport.com.
In case you missed the viral video, Chastain was competing in the Xfinity 500 and was running in 10th place on the final lap. To secure a spot in the Championship 4, Chastain needed to make up a lot of ground, so he employed video game tactics to pull one over on his opponents. His daring wall ride is embedded below and proved effective, with Chastain finishing in 5th place, enough to earn his place in the title race.
Interestingly, the update provided by NASCAR says that the move was already illegal, technically. The update reads as follows:
"NASCAR will deem any future use of that maneuver as unsafe per Section 10.5.2.6.A of the NASCAR Rule Book. To ensure that 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 maneuver such as the one performed at Martinsville.
"This is not a new rule. The safety language has existed in the rule book, and following Martinsville, we evaluated it, and chose to officiate consistently for the final race of 2022. Since the end of the season, we have worked with the drivers and teams to discuss the best way to officiate/interpret the rule for 2023, and we believe this is the right interpretation for the safety of our competitors moving forward."
This ruling has been welcomed by racers, many of whom were concerned that allowing such risky moves would open a Pandora's Box of problems.
At the time of the move, 2022 Cup Series champion Joey Logano conceded that the move "was awesome" but added that "there needs to be a rule against this," or the entire field could ride the wall on the final corner. He also noted that Chastain was lucky the car didn't get snagged by the wall or fence. For all we know, the side of the car closest to the fence could have been caught, potentially catapulting the Chevrolet Camaro stock car over the fence and towards spectators or back into the field where other racers may have been impacted.
Another driver, Kyle Larson, said it was "not a good look for our sport" and that it was "embarrassing." For a sport that gets much of its entertainment value from crashes, this is an interesting perspective.
Larson had attempted something similar in 2021 at Darlington, but it didn't come off for him. Perhaps it's because the move worked for Chastain in such spectacular fashion while surrounded by so many other racers that NASCAR has decided to clamp down, as Larson's move looked far less risky. Nevertheless, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out, as these stock cars run very close to the wall and can easily perform a wall ride unintentionally.
Nevertheless, Chastain has gone on record numerous times since the Martinsville to say that the move felt like a prolonged crash and that he'd probably never do it again. Now that NASCAR has banned the move, we'll probably never see it repeated.
Happily, the car that Chastain used will now be preserved as a piece of motoring history.
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