Chastain’s move in Martinsville is what NASCAR is all about

trick or treat.

Monday night, we had a choice. Something sweet to consume or something clever someone comes up with, maybe even something we haven’t seen before?

On a Sunday evening at Martinsville Speedway, we didn’t have to choose one or the other. We got it all at once. This resulted in a rush that not even the largest bag of sugar and chocolate could supply. A surge of WTH adrenaline felt so good that she was able to achieve what most thought was impossible. For two hours on a fall Sunday Sunday, NASCAR enjoyed more noise than the NFL. All thanks to Ross Chastain, who topped the scene with the most challenging reality move seen from a Cup Series machine at NASCAR’s oldest racetrack.

In case you are sleeping or all your social media channels are muted, here is what happened. Chastain, who was running behind Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the final race before the NASCAR Four Championships fighting for the title at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, knew he had to beat Hamlin if he wanted to be included in this season four. So, the 29-year-old dropped the hammer like Cole Trickle, except that it was real. In a tactic he later admitted was taken from EA Sports NASCAR Chase for the 2005 Cup on his Nintendo GameCube, he ran a No. 1 Chevy so high that the race car ran into the wall like one of those mechanical rabbits running on a rail at a dog track.

He hit what has since been recognized as perhaps the fastest race lap ever recorded in Martinsville, winding his way around that wall two full seconds faster than race winner Christopher Bell. He’s jumped from 10th to 5th, beat Hamlin on the goal line and made it into the title contenders – along with Bale, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott – a week from now.

Hamlin was stunned. Chastain was inflamed. The internet was on fire.

If I’m being completely honest, it was a slightly different fire than I expected. Not from everyone. Judging by the text messages and phone calls I’ve received from friends who’ve never really paid attention to motorsport, especially in the fall, Chastain’s movement splendor struck a chord and playful grandeur with many.

Perhaps this dazzling chorus from those unfamiliar with a spark plug from a wall plug is why I was a little surprised by the comments that came from those who live with high-octane fuel in their bloodstreams year-round.

Lugano was not impressed. “It was great, it was great. It happened for the first time. There is no rule against it. There has to be a rule against this rule because I don’t know if you want the entire field riding the wall coming into the squares flag.”

It wasn’t Kyle Larson, the guy who’s spent his entire career running inches from a wall, but not up against it, at least not in a stock car. Well, well, he did it once, in Darlington a year ago, and even brought it up on a Sunday in Martinsville, saying it was “embarrassing.”

Not surprisingly, Twitter tends to agree with the two former champions. Twitter usually agrees with past champions. At least during those rare cases where NASCAR Twitter agrees with anyone.

But do we really believe, because Chastain did what he did in a desperate moment to try to win a championship, and now every time the checkered flag appears everyone will suddenly start riding the top of the outer wall like Tony Hawk on the city park railing?

Sure, we’ve never had a moment quite like this. But we saw Carl Edwards unsuccessfully come off the wall at Kansas Speedway in 2008 to try and defeat the man who has consistently prevented him from winning the championship, Jimmy Johnson. It didn’t work out, but everyone laughed about it after the fact, once everyone had finished praising Edwards’ bravery, as ill-advised as his decision might have been.

NASCAR seniors still say the greatest achievement in Punishing Authority history, across all divisions, was when NASCAR Family Hall of Fame Ritchie Evans crossed the finish line with his right-hand tires all the way and the modified machine looked like Joey Chetwood at the state fair.

So, let’s think about this. Had the move we saw on Sunday been done by the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Cal Yarborough, Tim Richmond or any other holy man of motor racing, would a lot of people have been offended? Because it was Chastain, who not so long ago became famous for herding a watermelon, were people quick to dismiss the move as a reckless rather than a poking move by a much more worthy legend?

If Chastain had attempted “Pass in the Grass” at the 1987 NASCAR All-Star in place of Earnhardt, did that lead to new rules instead of creating paintings for the moment people still hung in their living rooms? If it was Chastain who made his way through the key at Laguna Seca in 1996 to defeat Bryan Herta instead of Alex Zanardi, the driver who was praised for his willingness to win at any cost, would he have been declared “embarrassed?”

I am not naive. I’ve been doing this for a while now. I understand the rules are different for Stars vs. other players. But I’ve also been doing this for long enough to remember that there were a few people, including his rivals, who called up Earnhardt for what he did at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And yes, they don’t like to admit it now, but there have been plenty of people in the Champ Car field who have expressed their displeasure with what Zanardi did in the key.

I also noticed that we still remember those moments because no one has tried anything like it since then. In other words, the moment is not a trend.

Every rider and every fan has the right to express their concerns, especially when they are related to safety. But it’s also no coincidence that most of the people in the garage who are talking are also just lost. Whether it’s Bill Elliott talking about Earnhardt in 1987 or the men eliminated from the 2022 NASCAR qualifiers talking about Chastain.

What may or may not come from this remains to be seen. We may not see for some time. But please, I beg you as fellow race fan, take a moment… well take it all night this week and keep watching Chastain move from Martinsville, over and over again. enjoy it.

Because no matter who you are or who your favorite driver is, that moment was amazing. Fabulous. Not real. Reason to watch motorsport. to be amazed. to be dazzling. And as a reminder why they sell T-shirts with the faces of race car drivers on it.

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