NASCAR bans Ross Chastain ‘Hail Melon’ move at Martinsville

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Ross Chastain’s “Hail Melon” move was considered one for the ages when he mashed the gas and used the wall at Martinsville Speedway to steer his car, allowing him to pass several competitors and overtake the final round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

A new interpretation of the NASCAR rules announced Tuesday ensured it was one for the ages.

Chastain’s incredible play in Martinsville

Chastain's incredible play in Martinsville

Ross Chastain talks about his wild final corner drive at Martinsville to advance to the Cup playoffs.

NASCAR, in its 2023 rules announcement, said that an interpretation of its current general rule on safety would make such a move illegal, and that a driver would have a lap or time penalty (ie increase the your time to the finish line (for an amount determined by NASCAR).

The rule: “Safety is a top priority for NASCAR … Therefore, any violation deemed to compromise the safety of an event or pose a dangerous risk to the safety of competitors, officials, spectators or others are treated with the utmost responsibility. degree of seriousness. Security breaches will be treated on a case-by-case basis.”

Many drivers said the move was dangerous, were surprised that Chastain’s car stayed on the track instead of going airborne, and that the Martinsville fence, including an area in the wall that opens up for the race car carriers can enter the field, it was maintained.

“It brought a lot of excitement, a lot of exposure to our sport, but it also came with some scrutiny,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said.

Chastain admitted she didn’t feel good about the beating she took inside the car when she hit the wall.

“If there is an act that we feel compromises the safety of our competitors, officials, spectators, we will take it seriously,” Sawyer said. “We will penalize for that act in the future. That play in Martinsville would be a penalty.”

Hamlin was eliminated after Chastain’s wild move

Hamlin was eliminated after Chastain's wild move

Denny Hamlin talks about being knocked out of the Cup playoffs on the last lap after Ross Chastain’s wild move at Martinsville.

Among other new rules announced Tuesday:

  • NASCAR will no longer have cautions at the end of stages on road courses. It will still award points at the end of the stages, but will not issue the warning. The only exception will be Autonomous Truck and Xfinity events where teams do not have specific equipment over the wall and have had breaks at the end of stages to service the vehicles.
  • Losing a wheel will no longer be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two crew members. If he passes on pit road, it will be a restart at the tail of the field if under caution and a pass under green penalty. If it goes beyond pit road, it’s a two-lap penalty and a two-race suspension for two crew members. With NASCAR switching from five nuts to a larger center nut for Cup last year, many felt the four-race suspensions were too severe, as teams wouldn’t try to leave a wheel loose (with five nuts, the tendency was to tighten). only three or four).
  • NASCAR will give teams seven minutes on pit road to work on their cars if they are damaged in a crash. It went six minutes last year before being increased to 10 minutes for the Cup playoffs. NASCAR felt that was a little too long, so it’s now made seven, which should be enough time for a team to repair a foot link, a suspension part susceptible to breaking even with minimal contact with the wall or another vehicle.
  • Cup drivers will no longer have to be in the top 30 in points to qualify for the playoffs with a win. The top 20 standard for Xfinity trucks and drivers has also been removed. Drivers must still attempt each race (or receive a waiver for missing a race). NASCAR felt that most of the drivers competing weekly would meet those standards anyway, and that those who didn’t meet that standard would be close enough to warrant being in the playoffs.
  • Drivers will be able to choose their lane for the restart at Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta and the Bristol dirt race. This makes the rule consistent with other races on ovals. NASCAR’s hesitance at tracks where teammates often help each other in the aerodynamic draft was that this would only increase the teammates’ teamwork. NASCAR will have to figure out how to pick the area for the dirt track since it can’t paint the surface (most likely using chalk).
  • NASCAR will have “rain” tires and teams will be required to have wiper connections and taillights in case NASCAR wants to run in wet conditions for the Clash, Martinsville, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix and Richmond, all relatively flat short tracks. . NASCAR wouldn’t run in steady rain, but could potentially run again sooner after a downpour or race in fog. The concern at larger tracks would be that drivers could see through the spray at higher speeds.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.

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