Christopher Bell crossed the finish line at Martinsville Speedway and cemented himself as NASCAR’s new elite closer. However, Ross Chastain stole the show with his once-in-a-lifetime move that will make him go down in history.
Let’s evaluate Chastian’s move at Martinsville and what NASCAR should do moving forward.
Ross Chastain pulls off stunning move to race for a championship
Chastain has not been one to shy away from drama and people within the sport have seen this happen over the course of the 2022 season. The fans have even formed harsh opinions about the driver of the No. 1 car.
However, Chastain pulled off the most incredible move that we have ever seen in NASCAR history to advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. If you haven’t seen it, this is going to make your jaw drop.
This is simply stunning. With Bell winning in his second must-win scenario of the playoffs, Chastain was going to miss the Championship 4 if things stood pat going into the final lap.
However, the 29-year-old driver gained five spots in the final corners of the race by riding the wall. This is heartbreaking for Denny Hamlin, who missed a chance at the championship due to this move.
Hamlin was better than Chastain all day and deserved to make it on pure race pace. But, the driver of the No. 1 car showed what he is willing to do to win a championship.
Chastain will join Bell, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott in the fight for a title at Phoenix Raceway next weekend. The four best drivers in terms of average finishing position will all be present.
There is another question that should be discussed before that point though. What should NASCAR do about Chastain’s move going into the 2023 season?
NASCAR needs to make a decision on this move for the 2023 season
Chastain’s video-game style move has drawn praise and some criticism from drivers within NASCAR in the hours after the event. There are two sides to the equation.
One side is the positive outlook that says NASCAR has been “put back on the map” after Chastain’s move has gone worldwide, not just within the world of racing.
The No. 1 car saw itself as the No. 1 sports play on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Sunday night during a day dominated by America’s most dominant sport, the NFL. It is a major accomplishment for the image of NASCAR.
The attention that NASCAR has received over the past 24 hours is incredible for the sport. People who have never considered it to be one of their favorites still recognize it as incredible.
There have been calls for the sport to make a move such as Chastain’s illegal. The positive outlook of this move would be that NASCAR has too many rules and that it would be taking away the fun.
However, the ones who are against the move also bring up valid points. If NASCAR doesn’t make a decision on how to police moves like this in the 2023 season, it will open up doors at the end of races that will produce chaos.
It was very exciting for the fans and mainstream media but drivers such as Kyle Larson and Joey Logano think it is something that needs to be addressed moving forward. The move was spectacular at the moment but it is a safety and racing concern.
So, what should NASCAR do moving forward? There needs to be something that comes from it. There are no rules against it which is why it was within the bounds of the rulebook. Chastain earned his spot and no penalties will rightfully come from it.
But, the drivers and other NASCAR members are right. That move is not going to work every time and it is a safety concern for fans, photographers, and drivers. Plus, wall riding might become more common and really affect the outcome of the races if nothing changes.
The door is open for drivers in the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series to do it at Phoenix Raceway. It takes away the legitimacy of racing if they spend 499 laps racing hard with the last lap being a chaotic mess.
Let’s be clear. Chastain did not break any rules and took advantage of the opportunity. He deserves to be in the Championship 4 for a daring move not yet in the rule book.
However, it is in the best interest of everybody to figure out a solution so it doesn’t happen to this degree in the future. If that doesn’t happen, there are just too many negative outcomes not found out yet.