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

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

Chastain went from 10th to 5th on the final lap of the race by intentionally ramming his car into the wall at full speed. He accelerated against the wall for the entirety of Turns 3 and 4 and passed five cars for a shot at the 2022 Cup Series championship in the title race in Phoenix on Nov. 6.

Christopher Bell won the race and qualified for the last four along with Chastain, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott. Chastain’s last-lap decision eliminated perennial title contender Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was in the last 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 car damage was off. And Chastain referenced those video games after getting out of his car.

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

This is what it looked like from inside Chastain’s car.

Hamlin might have had the better car throughout Sunday’s race. He led 203 of the race’s 500 laps but lost pit road positions at each of the race’s final three warning flags. If Hamlin’s pit team had held the serve, chances are he wouldn’t have been able to fall victim to Chastain’s video game move.

“You have to run all day and we just didn’t control the race when we had control of it,” Hamlin said. “With every warning, we kept losing places.”

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

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

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

How Bell won the race

Bell entered Sunday’s race needing a win to qualify for the title chase after being knocked out in the first race of round three in three races by Bubba Wallace’s intentional crash on Kyle Larson. His team made the choice to supply four new tires at the final caution of the race and Bell started again behind drivers who did not pit jump or take new tires.

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

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Bell combined to lead 353 laps on Sunday and Bell will be the team’s sole representative in the title chase. With Chastain advancing to the final round, the four drivers vying for the title in Phoenix belong to four different teams. It’s the first time since 2018 that four different teams have raced for the title after the first five years of NASCAR’s Final Playoff format with four drivers from four different teams.

Race results

1. Christopher Bell

2. Kyle Larson

3. Ryan Blaney

4. Brad Keselowski

5.Ross Chastain

6. Denny Hamlin

7.Joey Logano

8.William Byron

9. Bubba Wallace

10. Chasing 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 The Joy

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 Cassil

34. Austin Dillon

35. BJ McLeod

36. Tyler Red Dick

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