NASCAR: Ross Chastain's epic wall-riding maneuver on the last lap at Martinsville gets him a spot in the title race

Ross Chastain used an incredible wall-riding move on the final lap at Martinsville to advance to the NASCAR Cup Series championship race.

Chastain went from 10th to fifth on the final lap of the race by intentionally driving his car into the wall at full speed. He accelerated against the wall through the entirety of Turns 3 and 4 and passed five cars so that he would have a chance to win the 2022 Cup Series championship in the winner-take-all title race at Phoenix on Nov. 6.

Christopher Bell won the race and advanced to the final four with Chastain, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott. Chastain’s move on the final lap eliminated perennial title contender Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was in the final four ahead of Chastain via points until the final two corners.

Millennials will know that what Chastain did was the preferred way to win a race at Martinsville on EA Sports’ NASCAR video games in the early 2000s when you had the car damage turned off. And Chastain referenced those video games after he climbed from his car.

“Played a lot of NASCAR 05 on the Gamecube with [brother] Chad growing up and you can get away with it,” Chastain said. “And I never knew if it would actually work. I did that when I was 8 years old.”

Here's what it looked like from inside Chastain's car.

Hamlin might have had the best car throughout Sunday’s race. He led 203 of the race’s 500 laps but lost positions on pit road during each of the final three caution flags of the race. Had Hamlin’s pit crew held serve, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have been in position to fall victim to Chastain’s video game move.

“You gotta execute all day and we just didn’t control the race when we had control of it,” Hamlin said. “Each caution we just kept losing some spots.”

Chastain's lap time on the final lap was nearly 2 seconds faster than Bell's. Bell ran a lap of 20.512 seconds while Chastain ran an 18.845 while riding the wall in the final two corners.

Ross Chastain intentionally crashed his car to gain five spots in the final corners at Martinsville. (via NBC)
Ross Chastain intentionally crashed his car to gain five spots in the final corners at Martinsville. (via NBC)

How Bell won the race

Bell entered Sunday’s race needing to win to advance to the title race after he was taken out in the first race of the three-race third round by Bubba Wallace’s intentional crash of Kyle Larson. His team made the choice to pit for four fresh tires on the final caution of the race and Bell restarted behind drivers who either didn’t pit or took new tires.

Bell quickly worked his way to the front over the final 25 laps of the race and easily passed Chase Briscoe with five laps to go. Briscoe had stayed out during that caution on older tires because he was in the same situation as Bell. Staying out was Briscoe’s best shot of winning the race because he wasn’t near the front of the field when the caution came out.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Bell combined to lead 353 laps on Sunday and Bell will be the team’s only representative in the title race. With Chastain’s advancement to the final round, all four drivers racing for the title at Phoenix are from four different teams. It’s the first time since 2018 that four different teams will be racing for the title after the first five years of NASCAR’s winner-take-all final race playoff format featured four drivers from four different teams.

Race results

1. Christopher Bell

2. Kyle Larson

3. Ryan Blaney

4. Brad Keselowski [Disqualified after the race, placed in last]

5. Ross Chastain

6. Denny Hamlin

7. Joey Logano

8. William Byron

9. Bubba Wallace

10. Chase Briscoe

11. Chase Elliott

12. Harrison Burton

13. Daniel Suarez

14. Todd Gilliland

15. Cole Custer

16. Aric Almirola

17. Kevin Harvick

18. Michael McDowell

19. Erik Jones

20. Ty Gibbs

21. Martin Truex Jr.

22. Corey LaJoie

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24. AJ Allmendinger

25. Chris Buescher

26. Noah Gragson

27. Austin Cindric

28. Justin Haley

29. Cody Ware

30. Kyle Busch

31. JJ Yeley

32. Ty Dillon

33. Landon Cassill

34. Austin Dillon

35. BJ McLeod

36. Tyler Reddick