The talk of the town following this past weekend’s racing action at Martinsville Speedway was the video game wall-riding move that Ross Chastain utilized to pick up five positions in the final turn of the race to secure enough points to move to the Championship 4.
Some competitors like Chase Briscoe think it was an incredible move and applauded Chastain. Others, like Kyle Larson, were not a fan and said the move was a black eye for the sport. Fans and media have also been weighing in on the move on social media for the last two days.
On Tuesday, Steve O’Donnell NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer addressed the move on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive. O’Donnell said that the move was well within the sport’s current rules, and the sanctioning body doesn’t intend on taking away the ability to make that kind of move for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.
“Certainly within the rules,” O’Donnell said. “What he did and was able to execute it. So, as with anything you see for the first time, you have to take a look. We’ve had a number of discussions internally about that move and all of the what-ifs, but that’s within the rules, and believe that’s where we’ll be for Phoenix as well. And it’s something we can definitely evaluate for the offseason.”
While the sanctioning body could add a rule to prevent video game-style moves like Chastain’s at Martinsville next season, O’Donnell didn’t think it was right to change the rules for one race of a 36 race season.
“At this point, when looking at it it was a move that was within the bounds of the rulebook. Really don’t think it’s right to adjust the rules. For 35 points races we’ve been one way and then throw a wrinkle in it for the 36th,” O’Donnell explained.
No Penalty For Ty Gibbs Crashing Brandon Jones on Final Lap of Martinsville Xfinity Race
Chastain’s Martinsville move wasn’t the only topic of discussion for O’Donnell. There will be no penalties levied on Ty Gibbs following the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Xfinity Series entry crashing his teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap of Saturday’s Dead on Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
This isn’t news, as NASCAR announced this would be the case on Saturday, but on Tuesday, NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell addressed the situation and gave insight as to why Gibbs will not be punished.
Many fans and media have called into question why Bubba Wallace was suspended for intentionally crashing Kyle Larson, while Gibbs is not receiving the same treatment for what felt like an obvious retaliatory crash in a chippy battle for the win.
“I think when you’re at 165 miles-per-hour hooking someone into the wall for, what was to us, payback, it’s very different than what we saw in terms of making a move, racing for a win,” O’Donnell said. “That’s not to say I agree with how that was executed by any means, but we’re a contact sport. We’ve said that. There’s a very fine line in terms of how far do you go in officiating.”
While there will be no penalty for Gibbs, O’Donnell reiterated that the sanctioning body was not a fan of the move that Gibbs made for the win and that it was borderline as far as resulting in a penalty, but ultimately, intent couldn’t be proven.
“Certainly didn’t like what we saw on Saturday in terms of how that win came about, but at the end of the day, I think the drivers — it’s in their hands,” O’Donnell stated. “What is the intent? That’s very hard to judge. That was close for sure, but obviously, we made the call to let that one go.”
O’Donnell says NASCAR will meet with Gibbs and Jones before this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race to talk about what is expected out of the two on track this weekend. If Jones decides to retaliate against Gibbs, who is in the Championship 4, there could be repercussions.
“We meet with all of the competitors any time there is an incident. We did that with Bubba and Larson, and we’ll do the same thing prior to Phoenix,” O’Donnell said. “And you know, we’ll look at that. Whatever happens, we’ll have to make a call. The drivers will understand where we’re at in terms of what we expect on the racetrack and who is racing for a championship. That’s across the board, we do it every time.”
Austin Hill Faces Potential Penalty After Fight With Myatt Snider on Pit Road at Martinsville
While Chastain’s move was okay in the eyes of NASCAR and Ty Gibbs will avoid a penalty for his last-lap crash of Jones, NASCAR is still looking at the post-race altercation between Austin Hill and Myatt Snider after Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
For those who may have missed it, Hill punched Snider following the race and proceeded to toss Snider across pit road. According to Hill, who was already frustrated about being eliminated from the Playoffs, Snider said the right thing to, “piss him off,” after being told to stop numerous times, which led to Hill taking action.
There could be penalties handed down for this incident.
“I think Wayne [Auton] and his team are still looking at a bunch of the video and also having conversations with both the teams and drivers and folks that were there, but I think pushing and shoving — in my opinion — is one thing, and what you saw there, crosses the line,” O’Donnell explained. “No matter what the circumstances are, I think that’s something we’re going to have to look into further. Because there are drivers getting into it a little bit and that may be a little too far in my opinion.”