Bell Advances with Clutch win at Martinsville: Chastain pulls off Video Game move on Final Lap
This past Sunday’s Cup Series race at Martinsville was an elimination race and decided the four drivers who will race for a championship next Sunday at Phoenix. Most people expected little passing and a possibility of a boring race due to the struggles of the next-gen car on short tracks. In some ways, this race exceeded expectations with some major headlines to talk about.
Bell Answers the Call to Win:
Once again, Christopher Bell was in a must-win situation to advance to the next round of the playoffs. That’s exactly what Bell did. Bell was well below the cutline before coming into this weekend’s race, and as previously said, was in a must-win situation. Coming into this weekend’s race, Bell was 55 points below the cutline from advancing into the championship four. This win has locked Bell into the championship four and will compete for the championship in Phoenix next weekend. The young Joe Gibbs Racing driver earned his first win at Martinsville and the fourth of his career on Sunday. This was also Bell’s third win on the season, all coming at different varieties of tracks.
Unfortunately overshadowed by bigger headlines, this win was the 200th win for Joe Gibbs Racing. For Bell, this is what he needed to build momentum going into Phoenix. Bell passed fellow playoff driver Chase Briscoe, with just five laps to go, and did not look back. Bell led 150 laps en route to his win, with possibly the second-best car all day. An emotional Bell said in his post-race interview “Mom! Dad! We did it!” The young driver originally from Norman Oklahoma has a shot to win NASCAR’s top prize. Bell joins Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, and Chase Elliott in the championship four. But Bell’s win was not the big headline coming out of Martinsville.
Chastain’s Video Game Move:
Coming into Sunday’s race, Ross Chastain was 19 points above the cutline, which would sound like a comfortable gap to the cutline for some. When it comes to the elimination race at Martinsville, having points above the cutline means almost nothing. Late in the race, Christopher Bell would lead with 35 laps to go, and mathematically, Chastain would be out. A late race caution with 34 laps to go would set up a late race restart for Chastain to gain enough points on Denny Hamlin, who was four points above Chastain. After the restart with 24 laps to go. Hamlin and Chastain would beat and bang for several laps until Chastain started to fade away from Hamlin. On the final lap, Chastain needed two points to make it into the next round over Hamlin.
Chastain was too far back to make a pass on track normally. With that said, Chastain pulled off one of the craziest moves in a stock car that most people have seen. Chastain decided to full-throttle his way around the final corner to gain the points he needed. This move put Ross Chastain, and Trackhouse racing into the championship four. Team owner Justin Marks said from day one that Trackhouse would be competitive. Some people may have doubted Marks and Trackhouse, but this has proved that Trackhouse is not messing around. The move from Chastain has already caught mainstream media attention. From Pat MacAfee to Barstool Sports, the video clip of Chastain was trending within hours of being posted. Thankfully, this race at Martinsville was a lot better than the spring race. There are many reasons why this race was better compared to the spring race.
Why this Martinsville race was better than the Spring race:
There are many elements to this, but one big element to this is that the track was laying down rubber early in the green flag runs. In the spring race, it was difficult for the track to keep rubber due to how cold the track was. It was warmer at Sunday’s race compared to the spring, but not by much. One huge factor for this race was the testing that NASCAR has conducted at Martinsville over the season. There was more action on track, and it looked like a proper Martinsville race that the fans love. In the spring race, there was little to no passing throughout the green flag runs. In this past weekend’s race, there was some passing on the track, but not as much as people were expecting. NASCAR still has a lot of work to do with the next-gen car on short tracks.
What to expect from Phoenix:
The entire season has led up to this. Four drivers with an equal opportunity have a chance to win the NASCAR cup series championship this coming Sunday. Anything can happen to make or break a drivers race in Phoenix. Last season’s cup series champion, Kyle Larson, was last out of the championship four drivers late in the race. A caution came out with 31 laps to go, which allowed Larson’s pit crew to gain the lead. Larson would go on to win the race and claim his first cup series championship. If it weren’t obvious before, drivers will do anything to win the championship. Just look at what Ross Chastain did this past Sunday just to get into the championship four. Anything can happen when it comes to winning the championship. It should be a fun and exciting race to decide on the 2022 cup series champion.