Ross Chastain gains attention worldwide with Martinsville move
PHOENIX — Saluted by Formula One drivers, IndyCar competitors, NASCAR drivers and fans for his video game move last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Ross Chastain is still trying grasp all the attention.
Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo all praised Chastain’s move, joining a chorus of competitors throughout social media.
The video of Chastain’s wall-hugging maneuver on the final lap of last weekend’s Martinsville race has had 12.5 million views on the NBC Sports TikTok account. Excluding the Olympics, the only other video that has had more views on the NBC Sports TikTok account this year was Rich Strike’s historic Kentucky Derby win.
“It’s wild just to try to comprehend how far this has really went,” Chastain said Thursday at NASCAR’s championship media day at the Phoenix Convention Center. “Just people that I know that are overseas in Asia or in Mexico, people that normally don’t talk about NASCAR, are talking about it, and they’re going to watch this weekend.”
Chastain said he’s received more than 1,000 text messages since that move last week secured the final transfer spot to Sunday’s championship race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock). He’ll compete against Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell for the title.
Chastain said he’s tried to answer all his texts but has failed.
“I haven’t caught up,” he said. “I never buy the internet on planes, but I bought the internet on the ride out and I texted the entire time. I got through like 400. So the rest are going to have to wait until next week.”
Team owner Justin Marks sad Chastain’s stunning move at Martinsville has made a big impact in the shop.
“There is not a person in this building right now that wouldn’t do anything Ross Chastain asked them to do,” Marks said. “Everybody is so fired up that that kid made that kind of commitment, made that kind of move and carried the company on his shoulders in that moment to get us in. It’s incredibly empowering.”
Chastain had never seen the video game move until his brother Chad pulled it off in a video game to beat him more than 15 years ago.
“He was more just shocked,” Chad Chastain told NBC Sports of his brother’s reaction that day. “Just dropped the controller and you don’t even know what to do.”
The reaction was similar at Martinsville by competitors and fans — just without dropping a controller — by the real-life move by Chastain to run his car along the wall the last quarter mile with the accelerator mashed. He passed five cars to earn a spot in this weekend’s championship race.
Data from Chastain’s car showed that he was going more than 50 mph than a normal lap through Turns 3 and 4. It looked as if Chastain’s car was going at a cartoonish speed compared to the rest of the field.
Chastain reiterated Thursday he had not practiced that move on a simulator. His brother wasn’t convinced when they talked.
“When I answered (the phone), he said, ‘You practiced (the move) in the sim?” Chastain said of his brother. “No. Why does not anybody believe me? No I did not. He’s like, ‘I don’t believe it. You had to, You did it exactly how you needed to.’”
That’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time…— Will Power (@12WillPower) October 30, 2022