NASCAR bans Ross Chastain 'Hail Melon' move at Martinsville

Ross Chastain's "Hail Melon" move was tabbed as one for the ages when he mashed the gas and used the Martinsville Speedway wall to direct his car, allowing him to pass several competitors and advance to the final round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

A new NASCAR rules interpretation announced Tuesday made sure it was one for the ages.

Ross Chastain discusses his wild final corner move at Martinsville to advance in the Cup playoffs.

NASCAR, in its 2023 rules announcement, said an interpretation of its current general rule on safety would render such a move as illegal and a driver would be given a lap or time penalty (in other words, their time to the finish line would be increased by an amount determined by NASCAR).

The rule: "Safety is a top priority for NASCAR. ... Therefore, 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. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis."

Chastain said Saturday that he was proud NASCAR made a rule change based on his move.

"I am proud of it," Chastain said. ‘" don’t want to do it ever again, though. … It was the longest wreck of my life. It was just really successful. I have no desires to ever do that again. Selfishly, I am glad I get to be the only one in history to successfully did it."

The desperation move, which went viral for the amazing look of how he passed several cars in one turn, was not well received by his competitors, who loved seeing it but knew it could put drivers at risk.

"It did some good things for our sport," said 2021 Cup champion Kyle Larson. "I don’t think it would be good to see it happen every week. Making a call on it is good and we won’t see it anymore, so It’s nice."

Many drivers said the move was dangerous, were surprised that Chastain's car stayed on the track instead of getting airborne and that the Martinsville fencing, including an area in the wall that opens up for race-car transporters to enter the infield, held up.

"It brought got a great deal of excitement, a great deal of exposure to our sport, but it also came with some scrutiny," said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer.

Chastain admitted that he did not feel well from the beating he took inside the car as he hit the wall. 

"If there's an act that we feel that's compromising the safety of our competitors, officials, spectators, we're going take that seriously," Sawyer said. "We will penalize for that act going forward. That move at Martinsville would be a penalty."

Denny Hamlin discusses being eliminated from the Cup playoffs on the final lap after Ross Chastain’s wild move at Martinsville.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @