Ross Chastain pulls off ‘video game move’ to beat out Denny Hamlin for NASCAR Cup Championship 4 spot

Ross Chastain’s only path to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 race in Phoenix was to finish ahead of Denny Hamlin on Sunday in the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville. Halfway through the final lap, that seemed improbable.

With nothing left to lose, Chastain pulled off an improbable move, going full speed along the wall around Turn 3 and riding the speed and curve of the barrier. Just yards away from the finish line, Chastain passed Hamlin to secure the fourth spot in the Championship 4. He will join Joey Logano, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott as the four drivers competing for the 2022 Cup Series title.

MORE: Updates, highlights from the Xfinity 500

“It was a video game move off of the Turn 3. He put the car against the wall, wide open all the way around Turn 3 and 4,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on the call.

Chastain’s final lap clocked in at 18.845 seconds, per NBC Sports’ Dustin Long, nearly two seconds faster than the next-fastest time on the lap and roughly a second faster than the qualifying time that earned the pole position Saturday.

Here are two more looks at the move from inside the car.

And as would be expected, the car sustained heavy damage to the right side.

“Played a lot of NASCAR 05 on the GameCube with [brother] Chad growing up and you can get away with it,” Chastain said, per Yahoo News. “And I never knew if it would actually work. I did that when I was 8 years old.”

Chastain was still shocked by his feat when he was leaving the track.

“I can’t believe that that worked,” he said.

Chastain and Hamlin had a bit of a rivalry all season, with Hamlin often calling out Chastain’s tendency to be involved in crashes and hinting at retaliation.

Hamlin said after the race that he wasn’t looking in his rearview mirror and that he didn’t think there was anything one of his spotters could have told him to help him avoid the oncoming Chastain.

“It’s funny, but not for me,” Hamlin said.

Kyle Larson criticized the move and said that he felt bad if he was the one who introduced it to NASCAR last year

“That’s not a good look for our sport,” Larson said. “I think it’s pretty embarrassing.”

Hamlin didn’t call the move embarrassing. Instead, he said it was “brilliant” and “well-executed.”

Other drivers praised the boldness of the move but called into question whether NASCAR should prohibit it moving forward in the interest of driver safety.

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