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Winners and losers at Martinsville Speedway

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Ross Chastain was trying to figure out what he had done nearly an hour after his video game move upset the Cup playoffs and stole a sold-out Martinsville Speedway while leaving some drivers worried about about such a maneuver and NASCAR officials are considering a possible rule change to ensure it never happens again.

“It’s sinking into the fact that we’ve done something that nobody else has ever done,” Chastain said of his rim run on the final lap.

But what to call the move against the wall was too difficult a question for him to answer.

“I’ll check on the Internet,” he said.

Instead, it was easier for him to answer that he drove his car into the wall as fast as he could.

“It was a fight or flight,” Chastain explained.

Chastain was two points behind Denny Hamlin for the final transfer spot for next week’s Championship race on the final lap. Chastain was too far behind to earn those two positions, so he put his car in fifth gear on the back straight, planted his Chevy against the wall, took his hands off the steering wheel, and let the wall guide his vehicle around the last quarter mile while on the ground. the accelerator.

“My brain couldn’t figure it out, my bandwidth was shot when I went into (Turn) 3 and grabbed fifth gear,” Chastain said. “Everything became blurry. I couldn’t understand it.

It’s understandable why. Data from Chastain’s car reveals that his top speed in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap was 50mph faster than a normal lap.

Cole Custer, who was following Chastain, told NBC Sports he originally thought the No. 1 Chevrolet had lost its brakes until he realized what Chastain was doing.

“It was crazy,” Custer said. “He has balls. It was cool.”

Chastain’s car seemed to be traveling at a cartoonish speed compared to the rest of the field.

He passed five cars between Turn 3 and the finish line to earn enough points to beat Hamlin and have a chance to race Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Martinsville winner Christopher Bell for the championship Nov. 6 at Phoenix Raceway .

“How did it work? Chastain later said of his move.

Either way, he set the fastest lap a production car has ever run at Martinsville Speedway, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The track record was 18.954 seconds. Chastain’s last lap was 18.845 seconds.

Chastain said he had never tried anything like it in a car before. He said he first saw such a move more than 15 years ago in a video game.

“My brother Chad beat me doing it,” Chastain said.

“It came back to my mind on the white flag (turn). … If it wrecks, OK, we can’t do it. It might not work, but I’ll try.

Not everyone was seduced by the move.

Kyle Larson, who attempted a similar move at Darlington last year, disapproved of Chastain’s actions on Sunday.

“It’s just a bad look,” Larson said. “I’m embarrassed that I did it at Darlington. Maybe if I hadn’t done it last year people wouldn’t even think about it, so I myself am embarrassed and happy that I didn’t win that way (at Darlington). It’s not just a good look. Not a good look. … It’s embarassing.”

Larson went on to say, “If you think (Chastain’s move is right), why would you think it’s right?”

Logano appreciated Chastain’s decision but also suggested the sport should not revisit such a bold scheme again, citing safety concerns.

“As spectacular as it was, as much as it worked, the problem now is that the box is open, isn’t it?” Logan said. “Now every Xfinity race, every truck race, every cup race, no matter what track, that wall is going to be a game. It’s not good. It’s not good.

“I mean, it was awesome, it was cool. It happened for the first time. There’s no rule against it. There has to be a rule against it because I don’t know not if you want the whole peloton riding the wall to come to the checkered flag.

Logano suggested a rule needs to be in place ahead of this weekend’s championship races in Truck, Xfinity and Cup.

A NASCAR spokesperson said Sunday night that Chastain’s decision “was within the rules and (officials) will discuss any driver concerns this week.”

Hamlin, eliminated by Chastain’s charge, admitted his team’s struggles in the pits played a part in his failure to qualify for the title chase. Yet losing on such a knock from a competitor.

“It’s funny,” Hamlin said, “but not to me. … We lost on one shot which is fair game.

Chase Briscoe admitted that “I think we’ve all thought about ‘doing what Chastain did but don’t do it.

Briscoe was the first car Chastain passed. Then Bubba Wallace, Logano, William Byron and Hamlin just before the finish line.

“I wish I had done it now,” Briscoe said of Chastain’s move. “It’s like a 50-50 deal. Any of us could have done it, but is it fair to the (five) guys he passed? Probably not. But all of us (five) could have done the same thing.

Instead, it was Chastain who did it.

But after watching a video of his bold move?

“I can’t believe that’s me in this,” he said.