ross chastain trackhouse racin

As the final lap of 500 laps began on Sunday, Chastain was in dire straits, trailing Denny Hamlin by two points in the standings for the final spot in the Championship 4 and running 10th in the race.

As Chastain entered Turn 3, he hit the gas pedal on his #1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet and headed right to the wall.

As leader Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Hamlin and others raced off Turn 4 toward the checkered flag, Chastain came flying around the outside against the wall at incredible speed. He went from 10th to fifth in the final two turns, edging Hamlin by 0.73 seconds.

The move was as daring as it was surprisingly successful, and the swing in points was enough to move him ahead of Hamlin into the title finale.

Chastain’s final lap of the race registered at 18.8 seconds, faster than the lap time of Kyle Larson who won the pole for the race.

Asked if when and if he ever considered such a move prior to Sunday, Chastain said, “I played a lot of ‘NASCAR 2005’ on the Gamecube with [brother] Chad growing up. You can get away with it. I never knew if it would actually work.

Ross Chastain, TrackHouse Racing, Moose Fraternity Chevrolet Camaro launches his car into the wall to speed around Turn 4 to pass Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx Freight Direct Toyota Camry

Ross Chastain, TrackHouse Racing, Moose Fraternity Chevrolet Camaro launches his car into the wall to speed around Turn 4 to pass Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx Freight Direct Toyota Camry

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

“I mean, I did that when I was eight years old. I grabbed fifth gear, asked off of (Turn) 2 on the last lap if we needed it, and we did. I couldn’t tell who was leading. I made the choice, grabbed fifth gear down the back. Fully committed.

“Basically, I let go of the wheel, hoping I didn’t catch the Turn 4 access gate or something crazy. But I was willing to do it.”

The wild finish capped a remarkable semi-final round of the playoffs for Chastain, who had finished second at both Las Vegas and Homestead the last two weekends.

Even with the strong finishes, Chastain had difficulty keeping pace in Sunday’s race with several of his fellow playoff drivers.

Following the final caution of the race, Chastain lined up 11th in the running order, one spot ahead of Hamlin, on the restart with 24 laps to go.

Hamlin, however, was able to get around Chastain quickly and able to move up to fifth entering the final lap while Chastain was struggling in 10th.

But thanks to his last-gasp move, Chastain edged Hamlin for fifth – and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could do nothing expect be impressed by the Floridian’s gamble.

“Great move,” confessed Hamlin. “Brilliant. Certainly a great move. When you have no other choice, it certainly is easy to do that. But well executed.”

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