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If you were watching any part of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, then you will have witnessed the moment in the penultimate race when Ross Chastain made history by shifting himself from 10th to 5th in an incredible video-game-like maneuver in the final lap. This bold, some say insane move is known as “haul the wall.” In today’s blog, we’re going to learn all about this maneuver, how it happened, and what it might mean for the sport.
It was no doubt a ballsy move, and as one driver said XXXXXXXX, we take a further look at it below and have included a video made with all the angles available. it quite the show!
In simple terms, “haul the wall” refers to the action of a driver deliberately driving their car up against the side wall to cling to the outside lane at speed to have a clear path ahead to overtake drivers in the pack, who are invariably competing for space in the inside track section.
On the surface it seems like a madman’s plan to deliberately drive into the wall, but the 2022 NASCAR playoff season on October 30 in Martinsville, Ross Chastain pulled it off in tremendous style.
While pulling the “haul the wall” move in October 2022, Chastain also set a Cup Series race lap record at Martinsville, 18.845 seconds with an average speed of 100.483-mph.
The penultimate NASCAR playoff season race was held on October 30, 2022 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Christopher Bell was the winner of that race, but Ross Chastain pulled an amazing maneuver to move himself instantly from 10th to 5th, and to have done enough to earn himself a place in the Championship 4 race in Phoenix on November 6. This was “haul the wall.”
After struggling to pass Chase Elliott in his number 9 Chevrolet, Chastain found himself behind the leaders led by Bell with seemingly no way to make up ground. Suddenly as he approached turn 3 on the final lap, Chastain started to hug the wall in a move that in other times might have looked like he’d fallen asleep or fainted at the wheel, but turned out to be a stunning game-changer.
As his car hugged the wall, Chastain’s path ahead was clear as the pack of cars in front of him were to be found where you’d expect: fighting over the inside lane. Taking advantage of this, Chastain sped round, dragging along the wall the whole time, thus pushing his way up the field before the others could pull into the outer lane to stop him.
Interestingly, the “haul the wall” move was not entirely ‘original’ in the strictest sense of that word. While it might have been the first time we saw it done on a real NASCAR track, it was a well-known way to win in the early 2000s NASCAR video games, specifically NASCAR 05 for the Nintendo Gamecube.
Chastain himself was a player of the game, as we can see from his quote on Yahoo Sports:
“Played a lot of NASCAR 05 on the Gamecube with Chad growing up and you can get away with it…And I never knew if it would actually work.”Yahoo Sports
It seems those hours spent aged 8 years old playing NASCAR 05 with his brother Chad were well spent for his later career. Who’d have thought? In the game, it was possible to turn car damage off, and thus the strategy emerged as an interesting way to win at Martinsville Speedway on that particular section of wall at the third turn.
In the game, therefore, people went for it because they knew there would be no damage to their cars or, importantly to anyone else.
Chastain, however, lives in the real world, and knew the damage the maneuver could do, but still did it anyway. Was that a calculated risk or a foolish endeavor?
Chastain knew that sticking to the outside would maximize his speed, and at the same time he’d have a clear path ahead. After all it took to overtake Elliott, perhaps he just thought he had to go for it. We’ll think more about that further below.
The most immediate response to “haul the wall” was utter astonishment and amazement from the commentators and Chastain’s pit crew alike, not to mention the fans, who probably had to double take and think for a few moments about what they had just witnessed.
The commentators were audibly amazed, remarking how they’d never seen anything like this before in their lives.
The move obviously had a great effect on Chastain and his prospects, launching him into the Championship 4 and a chance to take the title (which was, alas, taken in the end by Joey Logano). It was viewed from the outset as a bold, gutsy and near-heroic move that was a testament to Chastain’s own ingenuity, resourcefulness, and determination and as Chase Briscow said in car, way to never quit.
On the flipside, not all the responses were entirely positive. On November 1, 2022, just 2 days after Chastain pulled the move, an article on frontstretch.com considered whether the move was helpful or harmful to the sport at large.
While the positive comments were similar to those that we have already listed above, the more negative feedback focused on how this was the latest in a growing, troubling trend of drivers taking riskier and riskier behavior in the name of victory and making their sport more interesting and entertaining.
Some argue that Chastain was just incredibly lucky to have pulled it off without any serious incident. His car was grinding against the wall the entire time he was taking turn 3, which could have led to all sorts of dangerous damage, possibly sending his car careening off in the opposite direction and hurting others, but also sending debris flying, and putting himself in actual danger.
If others now see this as a viable strategy, how long before more and more drivers start “pulling a Chastain” and hauling the wall to victory, only to find themselves in serious trouble?
It’s all rather dower, we understand, but it’s a valid concern, and not unfounded in reason when you look at drivers across all NASCAR series increasingly engaging in risk-taking behavior to win or get ahead. Let’s not forget that Chastain wasn’t going for the win, here, because that had already been secured by Bell.
Rather, he was going for the placement and points he needed to get into the Championship 4. Was it worth it? in the short term, yes, but in the longer term, who knows?
The following quotes are all from drivers who watched the Haul the wall move while in the race!
I’ve never seen anything like it….The 1 Hail maryed the Fence!Denny Hamlin
What in the Hell, he put it on the fence, and went wide open, i dont know if he beat the .., yeah he did.Chase Elliott
Coming to the chequered flag i can’t believe what i just saw, That was literally the coolest thing i ever saw, straight video games, but hey man way to never quit.Chase Briscoe
The Future of Haul the Wall
Although declared as not illegal at the time, it has very recently, actually 5 hours ago since we started writing this article been banned as a maneuver and going forward NASCAR referred to rule 10.5.2.6.A, which states “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.”
So if anyone tries a short track haul the wall this year they are going to get a lap or time penalty, although understandable it still seems a shame we wont see any moves like this going forward, as it was as Chase Briscoe said ” Literally the coolest thing i have seen”
We take a look at NASCAR’s decision in more detail here on the site.
While we may never see a move like Ross Chastain’s “Haul the Wall” video game move in NASCAR again, at least on purpose, it is unarguably something that brought attention to the sport globally, and got people talking and it certainly, CERTAINLY wasn’t staged or rigged!
It once again opens up the debate about risk versus reward that is prevalent in all motor sports series, and clearly demonstrates how important racing is to these drivers.