Racing is often measured by the unexpected. This or that happened and few, if any, saw it coming or could stack the available information to even imagine it.

As the 2023 NASCAR season opens, there have already been some unexpected incidents. Stenhouse winning Daytona…? Kyle Busch winning so early with a new car and team…? Byron sweeping stages and the win at Vegas…? Elliott out from a snowboard accident…?

These were unlikely events if placing bets but are now in the books as fact.

However, these new events for the new season were set aside as Martinsville Speedway and NASCAR took time to remember an event that eclipses the unexpected. The October, 2022 last lap “Hail Melon” accelerated wall ride by Ross Chastain to make the Championship Four is that event.

On Tuesday, March 7th, Chastain returned to Martinsville Speedway. The wall in turns 3 and 4 have been left as they were following the high speed retaining hug of the #1 Moose Camaro. Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell walked with Chastain as they discussed the thoughts, timing and action of that last lap of the 2022 Xfnity 500.

It really wasn’t a planned thing, but it was an “all or nothing” thing as Chastain exited turn two and set things in motion with a full throttle attack on turn three. The impact, he says, was a bit more harsh than anticipated but the car hung on. The tires held. He let go of the steering wheel at one point and exited turn four having to grab the wheel again. He slingshot by Denny Hamlin to take the line a half length or so in front. Ross Chastain grabbed the finish needed to make his way into the “Playoff Four”.

For the effort and the torn up right side of a car, he finished fourth. It was on spot ahead of Hamlin which made the difference as he edged Hamlin out of championship contention. The following week for the final race at Phoenix, Chastain did well with a third place finish after starting back in the pack at 25th. Joey Logano won the race and the season.

NASCAR has since made changes on rules and the accelerated wall hug move is now illegal. It isn’t a new rule but a clarification on safety rulings which encompasses the potential risks of the maneuver to fans and other drivers.

The mid week visit by Ross Chastain was also marked by the removal of a section of the retaining wall in turn three and four. Chastain used a Kubota fork tractor to lift the middle section up and off the track. It will be set aside for later display, possibly even at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A new section will be placed and the entire turn three and four wall will be repainted and ready when NASCAR returns to Martinsville Speedway in April.

Photo Gallery of Ross Chastain at Martinsville Speedway

Richmond saw racing and a lot more. Toyota, with track and race sponsorships (ToyotaCare 250 / Toyota Owners 400), owned Xfinity race day with a pole and a 100th series win from Toyota driver Denny Hamlin. Sunday, the day started with Joey Logano’s Ford and ended with Kurt Busch’s Chevy.


We also saw tributes on the Pace Car, during driver introductions and reminders through the weekend and the race on the loss of NASCAR sports broadcaster Steve Byrnes. His insights and character enhanced the sport, the fans and everyone in the garage and the shops.


We met the new Miss Coors Light at the Pole Winner presentations. Rachel Rupert has been in the Coors Light suit since 2010 and at Richmond we met former Miss Kentucky (2012) Amanda Mertz. She is outgoing, smiley and pretty and likes the sport. Good luck Rachel – We’ll miss you. Hello Amanda – Welcome.


There was an extra day thanks to April showers. The schedule for Saturday was essentially down the drain. Fans, however, still made the best of it. They listened to the band at the Miller Lite Party Tent, they shopped for their favorite driver merch and they toured the infield and braved the weather the same as teams did going through the pre-race inspections.

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I’m guessing… But it is quite possible the local economy was boosted a bit with liquid sales on Saturday just a bit beyond normal…

All in all, rain and all, the welcome of the new and the farewell of the familiar, Richmond brought the races and the memories that the sport thrives on.

Racing comes in all shapes and sizes. All summer long we’ve been inundated with IndyCar, Formula 1, dirt tracks, sprint cars, trucks, drags, NASCAR and more.

The bulk of it has been through television. Now, however, racing is back on and coming to Virginia and it gets rolling with what could be the most basic of the sport. It is “run what you brung” racing at Virginia International Raceway with the Optima Batteries Chump Car VIR 24 Hour Classic!

Yes – It’s a long name for a long race. 24 hours of a track full of cars of all different sizes and colors and makes and models. These cars are the result of tinkering and tweaking in garages and barns and little car shops all over the country. These are Chumps! They are at VIR to race this weekend (August 9-10-11). (more…)