Ross Chastain Will Not Ride the Wall Again
Ross Chastain's wild, last-gasp pass to secure his spot in NASCAR's Championship Four has transcended from a racing
spectacle to a real cultural phenomenon. From Sports Center recaps to video game blogs, to group chats with Grandma, you can see the move almost anywhere.
It was a star-making moment, a once-in-a-lifetime maneuver from Chastain.
Wall Ride now has a section on Wikipedia (Chastain fans, from the Florida melon-cultivation family, call it "The Hell Melon"); This in itself has taken on an inertia,
and even with a championship to win, Chastain is left holding the reins for a moment that has become something else entirely.
"I mean, it's bigger than me. It's bigger than NASCAR in a way," Chastain said.
"I don't know if I'll ever fully understand how far it went and the reach it had, but what's so great about the sport is
that we're putting these race cars on the limit and every time you get something Gets really visible."
The race against the limits of humanity and physics will always perform brilliantly. But this was something else.
Perhaps something that reached beyond physics by subverting our expectations of how the game should operate. I mean, it was not a born step in physics.
Chastain initially admitted that he had the idea to play NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube as a child. Race cars would never do that, I reasoned.
"All I know is that the last time I could remember [riding the wall] would have been back.
Yeah, I don't, I just know. I haven't done it in simulators, haven't done it intentionally like this." From iRacing on. So it would be.
I was a casual NASCAR fan and used to play [video] games ... and just never thought about attacking the corner like that. And yes, that's why it worked."
Chastain paused to reflect on this for a second, and our Zoom call went quiet. I thought the line might have been cut, but his voice came back in silence.
"I'm not sure how I'll look at it in the future, but I think it will definitely keep me alive," he said.
As noted by my colleague Fred Smith, it's worth considering the context here as well.
The Wall ride, though spectacular, is only the cherry on top of an already miraculous season for Chastain.
During 2022, he took his first opportunity in a truly competitive car and seized it,
going from a middle-of-the-road competitor to a title challenge in a full sprint.