NASCAR Cup Series

What do other NASCAR drivers think of Ross Chastain's daring move?

October 31

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The finishes of the races during the Martinsville Speedway weekend will have fans talking and drivers wondering about how they will impact the championship weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

Ty Gibbs wrecked his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Brandon Jones, on the final lap to win the Xfinity Series race Saturday, keeping Jones from advancing to the championship round.

A day later, Ross Chastain made a daring move — literally by driving into the wall — to earn the spots he needed to advance to the NASCAR Cup Series championship round.

Both moves had drivers wondering what is acceptable.

We'll start with the Cup. Chastain needed to gain two positions in the final lap and just hammered the gas to drive his car into the wall and, using his momentum and the wall as his buffer, gain five spots in the final two turns.

It was a video-game move, as Chastain had to take his hands off the steering wheel and just keep his foot on the gas. Chastain's car was wrecked enough that he likely wouldn't have made another lap. He didn't need to. 

Fast Thoughts from Bob Pockrass

FOX Sports NASCAR writer Bob Pockrass tells you why the last-lap move executed by Ross Chastain was perfectly OK.

"It's destroyed," Chastain said as he looked at his car. "The brakes are knocked out of it. The steering is all messed up. My head is a little scrambled as well. It was worth it."

Drivers seemed amazed by the move but also wondering if pretty much walling the car is an acceptable way to race.

"I don't know if it's the safest thing for the driver or the fans when you have a car right up at the wall hauling the mail like that," Joey Logano said. "What if that fence, [the crossover] gate, wasn't closed all the way? What if it was bent and caught his car? That's a big risk that Ross was willing to take. God bless him, that's awesome. 

"I don't think we need to do that every week."

Logano advocated for NASCAR to create a rule to not allow such a move.

"It was cool," Logano said. "It happened for the first time. There's no rule against it. There needs to be a rule against this one because I don't know if you want the whole field riding the wall coming to the checkered flag."

NASCAR said it would discuss any driver concerns this week, but how it would determine such a rule is questionable if a driver executes it, as Chastain did, without taking out another car.

Then again, driving 50 miles an hour faster into the corner than normal (that's what the data indicates Chastain did) can seem at least a little reckless.

For Chastain, it was just about desire.

"We did something that no one else has ever done," he said. "That's hard to do in [not] just the world that we live in in 2022, but definitely our sport."

Ross Chastain on his wild final corner move at Martinsville

Ross Chastain looks at his car as it is pushed by him after the finish at Martinsville and just laughs.

Now it will be up to NASCAR to determine if more will be allowed to do it.

As for the Xfinity race, Gibbs didn't need to punt Jones on the final lap except to win a race trophy, as Gibbs had already clinched a spot among the four championship finalists. A win is significant but not exactly in a way of what a team owner, even one named Gibbs, wants to see.

"None of us wanted what happened," said Joe Gibbs, grandfather of Ty.

Ty Gibbs said he didn't mean to hit Jones to wreck him; he merely wanted to bump him in order to make the pass. Some would likely be skeptical of that explanation, and regardless of intent, a driver at the Xfinity level shouldn't be making those mistakes.

"I just hit him too hard and that's my fault," Ty Gibbs said. "But we're racing for wins here."

Ty Gibbs speaks on the NASCAR race at Martinsville

Ty Gibbs discusses what happened during the final lap of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville.

NASCAR could have opted to send Gibbs to the tail end of the lead lap in the final rundown and award second-place finisher Sheldon Creed the win. But it wants its drivers to race hard for wins, and as long as they are racing for position, it likely won't respond to such contact. NASCAR said it is not reviewing the move beyond any review conducted in the moment.

Jones is leaving JGR for JR Motorsports next season.

"I wasn't expecting to get wrecked," Jones said. "I was expecting, if anything, to just get moved up out of the way a little bit. ... You anticipate a little bit that you're going to get touched, but he carried so much speed in there that I wasn't going to get out of that without getting wrecked."

The move eliminated Jones from championship contention while allowing Justin Allgaier to advance. JR Motorsports drivers Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Josh Berry will face off with Gibbs for the championship in the race at Phoenix.

Jones has a previous win at Phoenix, one of his best tracks. It could be argued that Gibbs, in a championship quest, would rather race Allgaier than Jones for the title.

Despite the championship being on the line, Jones didn't think that Gibbs should get penalized.

"It's just racing etiquette," Jones said. "I don't think it is anything he should get penalized over."

Brandon Jones on getting wrecked by Ty Gibbs

A disappointed Brandon Jones reacts to his teammate wrecking him, which eliminated Jones from championship contention.

NASCAR likely will be on the lookout for any driver trying to eliminate Gibbs, who has had disputes with several of his competitors, by wrecking him at Phoenix. The same may be true for Chastain, although now his competitors might look at him a little differently for just having the guts to make that wall-riding move.

They do know that it will have to be in their playbook for Phoenix, although at a one-mile oval, it's not necessarily as likely to be able to execute such a move.

"I think all of us have done it on some video games," said Chase Briscoe, the first driver Chastain passed. "He executed it well. I'm curious to see what kind [of] wormhole that opens up at the end of these races going forward."

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Thinking out loud 

It is good to see Alex Bowman returning for the season finale at Phoenix Raceway after missing the past five races because of a concussion. 

Some people would say it is silly to return for one race and he should rest for next season. But Bowman, speaking to the media Sunday, made a strong case for his return. He has been cleared as 100 percent to race, and he has been doing extensive workouts without any ill effects.

Returning for Phoenix goes beyond racing in his home state and having one final race with departing crew chief Greg Ives. It will give him confidence that he is ready to go for the Daytona 500 next year.

It would be a hard offseason if he had any bit of doubt on whether he is ready. Racing in the finale will help ease any of those thoughts. 

Social spotlight

Stat of the day

The Christopher Bell victory at Martinsville was the 200th Cup victory for Joe Gibbs Racing.

They said it

"Hopefully we've got one more to add on top of it next week." —Christopher Bell after his win to advance to the championship round

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

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