NASCAR says 'Hell no' to 'Hail Melon;' Ross Chastain's Martinsville move is now a no-no
Just days before the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum, NASCAR has done one of two things, depending on whom you ask.
A. They’ve done the sensible and safe thing and outlawed Ross Chastain’s go-for-broke, desperation, “Hail Melon,” last-lap maneuver he used at Martinsville last Oct. 30 to blast his way into the playoff finale.
Or B. They’ve sucked another ounce of potential fun out of the sport, outlawing the most talked-about moment of last season.
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At Martinsville, with less than a lap to go, "Ross the Boss" needed to pass five cars to gain enough ground to become one of the last four racers going to the season finale with a shot at the Cup Series championship. He did it, literally, with a video-game move, he explained later.
Chastain's Martinsville move: Cool or not cool?
He ran the right side of his car up against the outside wall of the half-mile oval, floored the gas, and let the wall hold him in place as he blew past those five cars. Given Chastain’s lineage as an eighth-generation South Florida watermelon farmer, his “Hail Mary” instantly became the Hail Melon and part of racing folklore.
Fellow racer and defending champion Kyle Larson was the first to shake his head and say, in so many words, “Not cool.”
Well, not cool as a long-range strategy, given the potential danger such things unlock. But at that place and time, it sure seemed cool. Very cool, as in Everybody’s-Talking-About-It cool.
There was suspicion such a move wasn’t long for the modern world, and Tuesday NASCAR made it official.
NASCAR's new Ross Chastain rule isn't really new
No new rule was written, but an existing rule (Rule 10.5.2.6.A, if you’re scoring at home) was emphasized.
“Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to 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. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”
A “time penalty” will be slapped on anyone daring to try it again. In Chastain’s case, they probably didn’t need to ban the move.
“Why it worked? I don’t know, but I have no ideas or plans to ever do that again because it was not pleasant,” he said a few days later.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Ross Chastain's 'Hail Melon' gets NASCAR's 'Hell No!' Safety wins out