Necessity truly is the mother of all invention.
If you’ve ever needed proof of that, look no further than the wild stunt that NASCAR driver Ross Chastain pulled on Sunday to secure a place in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 field:
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 30, 2022
Chastain, 29, who drives for the Trackhouse Racing Team, pulled the move out in the very last lap at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in a desperate bid to keep his season going.
Here’s the longer clip for some additional context:
The NBC announcing crew was in (justified) disbelief.
“It almost doesn’t look real,” one said while watching the replay of Chastain’s acceleration.
“I couldn’t even process what I was seeing,” said another. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-generation type move.”
Chastain effectively wrecked his own car by driving it into the wall on the last lap.
What were the benefits of this apparent self-sabotage? It allowed him to accelerate when most cars would decelerate to turn.
You don’t have to be a NASCAR star or even to play video games to understand this.
The last time you made a turn while driving, did you decelerate or accelerate into it? The reason you didn’t accelerate is physics — a car would run the risk of flipping over if you were to accelerate too hard on a turn.
But flipping wouldn’t be a concern if you had something to brace your vehicle as you were accelerating into a turn. Sure, you’d risk significant damage to the car itself, but that’s a risk that Chastain was willing to take.
Notably, by most metrics and sane driving etiquette, Chastain was finished heading into that last lap. He was in 10th place and needed a top-five finish to qualify for the championship.
He needed to move up several spots during that last lap, and rounding into that home stretch, it seemed impossible for Chastain to make up that ground. And it would’ve been impossible had Chastain decelerated on that turn like other drivers.
His instincts conjured up this outside-the-box strategy out of necessity, and it was wildly successful.
Chatain finished fourth in the race with the fastest Cup Series lap in the history of Martinsville Speedway, according to NASCAR.com.
While he was obviously the story of the race, there was plenty of other drama in Martinsville.
Christopher Bell won the race itself, locking in a place for him in the Championship 4. Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Chastain rounded out the rest of the top four, but Keselowski failed a postrace inspection, moving Chastain into the No. 4 spot.
Bell and Chastain both qualified for the Championship 4 based on their finish.
It would be a glaring omission to not sneak in one last little tidbit about Chastain. Not only is he a good driver with some incredible instincts, but he’s also an eighth-generation watermelon farmer and has turned that into his Melon Man Brand.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.