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A Wild Video Game Move In NASCAR Is Tearing the Sport Apart

29-year-old NASCAR driver Ross Chastain did something that defies belief during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race in Martinsville, Virginia. The young driver kept the pedal pinned around the final corner of the last lap, geared up to rarely-used fifth, and drove directly into the racetrack barrier. As smoke flew up from the contact, the car rode the wall, picking up even more speed and slingshotting Chastain ahead of his competitors. 

“I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life,” one announcer said. It was the fastest time that anyone had posted at the Martinsville track in 75 years.

Chastain won a spot in the upcoming NASCAR Championship 4 with that daredevil move. Even more incredibly, he said that it came straight from a video game. 

“Oh, played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube with [sibling] Chad growing up,” Chastain said. “You can get away with it. I never knew if it would actually work.” Chastain added that he “basically let go of the wheel” and hoped for the best during the manoeuvre. 

Even if Chastain achieved something most of us can only dream of—using something from a video game in real life and having it succeed, that is—it hasn’t gone down well with everybody. After all, using a wallride technique from an old video game in NASCAR is a bit of an Air Bud situation: there’s nothing that says you can do it, but there’s no rule against it, either. 

“It’s just a bad look,” said fellow racer Kyle Larson, who tried a wallriding move himself in a race last year. “I’m embarrassed that I did it at Darlington. Maybe if I didn’t do it last year, people wouldn’t even think to do that, so I’m embarrassed myself and glad that I didn’t win that way. It’s not just a good look.” He added, “It’s embarrassing.”

Joey Logano, a driver who will face Chastain at the championship, said that Pandora’s box is now open and said the move should be banned. 

“I mean, it was awesome, it was cool. It happened for the first time,” he said. “There’s no rule against it. There needs to be a rule against this one because I don’t know if you want the whole field riding the wall coming to the checkered flag.”

In the wake of all this controversy, there are plenty of articles and YouTubers debating the move and its legality going forward, as well. 

While it’s not clear exactly which NASCAR game Chastain was talking about, it may well have been NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, which was released for multiple consoles including GameCube. Unfortunately, I never played this game as a kid (likely why I am writing this instead of winning NASCAR races) but there are plenty of videos on YouTube of people playing the game and doing all sorts of things you wouldn’t normally see on a real track. Pushing other drivers around, driving on the grass—video game stuff, basically, and in that context brazenly hugging the wall to zip past competitors makes complete sense. 

NASCAR itself has already said that the move was within the rules and officials will address driver concerns in the coming days. 

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