NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell reiterated on Tuesday morning that Ross Chastain’s go-for-broke move on the last lap at Martinsville Speedway didn’t violate any rules.
Not only that, but O’Donnell said there will be no knee-jerk reaction from the sanctioning body going forward.
Chastain rode the wall in Turns 3 and 4 wide open to gain five spots coming to the checkered flag and advance into the Championship 4. In doing so, his fellow competitors were both amazed and pondering if a box had been open for similar moves in the future.
“We’ve seen similar attempts but never successfully,” O’Donnell told on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “In our 75-year history, no one has successfully done that. So, Ross pulled off a first that we all saw, that I don’t think anyone was thinking about. When you saw that, I think everyone has described [it] like a video game move.
“[It was] certainly within the rules … As with anything you see for the first time, you’ve got to take a look. We’ve had a number of discussions internally about that move and all the what-ifs.
“But it’s within the rules and [we] believe that’s where we’ll be for Phoenix as well and something we can evaluate in the offseason.”
Joey Logano was one of the drivers who was thoroughly entertained by what he saw. The Team Penske driver said it needed to be on SportsCenter (which it was) but also said for as “spectacular” as it was, it needed to be a one-time thing. Logano doesn’t believe the sport needs the field riding against the outside wall for safety reasons.
Denny Hamlin called it “funny,” although it came at his expense for a playoff spot. Kyle Larson, the reigning Cup Series champion, said it was embarrassing for the sport.
But social media has been ablaze with the video of Chastain’s move and drivers from other racing series weighing in with everything from disbelief to how fantastic it was. The clip posted on the official NASCAR on NBC Sports Twitter page has 9.6 million views as of Tuesday morning.
O’Donnell said NASCAR has heard the driver feedback.
“Oh sure, and I’ve always heard from some that said that was the coolest move, don’t do anything,” O’Donnell said. “It’s all over the board. It always is.
“At the end of the day, we recognize we’re the government, it’s our job to make the call. It’s not liked. And if you make half the folks happy and half angry, you usually hit the right tone with whatever call.
“Where we’re at today, we’re going to go to Phoenix, we’re going to race for a championship, we’ll see what happens there in terms of on-track and what’s executable and look over the off season like we do with all of our rules.
“But at this point in looking at it, it was a move that was within the rulebook, and really don’t think it’s right to adjust the rules when, for 35 races, we’ve been one way and throw a wrinkle in for the 36th.”