Ross Chastain got mainstream notoriety for his “Hail Melon” move, where he rode the wall around the final two turns at Martinsville to pass a bunch of cars and advance to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4.
It was a risky maneuver timed to perfection, and despite the attention it got, NASCAR recently banned the move for future use.
TMZ Sports asked Chastain how he felt that his iconic move was banned and he said he was “proud,” describing it as a “badge of honor.”
“I take it as a badge of honor that I want my crew chief and my engineers and my mechanics pushing the limits of the car — I don’t want to break the rules, but I want them to have to write new rules and explain things more clearly where we might find a gray area on the car.”
“I don’t want to do it again,” Chastain said. “I don’t want to see guys doing it. And, I’m proud that I’ll be the first and last guy to successfully do it.”
NASCAR cited a safety rule that was already in the rulebook which bans anything that “compromise the safety of an event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of competitors, officials, spectators or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness.” It doesn’t explicitly say that riding the wall to pass cars violates that rule, and given the backlash that would’ve resulted if NASCAR tried to penalize Chastain at the time, the sanctioning body decided not to intervene. But now, everyone knows that move is not allowed.
Motorsports is all about pushing the envelope in regards to the rules. The best crew chiefs and engineers in NASCAR history were known to find gray areas to exploit, often resulting in NASCAR creating a rule after the fact in order to get rid of that advantage. It happens less often these days, but Chastain took advantage of that gray area and he’ll be the only person to benefit from that.
After NASCAR banned the move, Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks announced that they will retire Chastain’s car and leave it unrestored, in order to preserve its place in NASCAR history.