Let this be a lesson, kids — those hours spent playing video games can result in an excellent real-life payoff.
That was the case for one quick-thinking NASCAR driver, Ross Chastain, who said he used an old trick he learned while playing Nintendo GameCube as a kid to help him ensure his season would continue.
The maneuver happened Oct. 30 during the Xfinity 500 race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Va.
During the final lap of the race, Chastain was in 10th place position but needed to place in the top eight racers to earn enough points to qualify for the upcoming championship race on Nov. 6.
Racers are usually forced to slow down for the track’s notorious tight and shallow-banked turns, but Chastain had another plan in his back pocket.
“I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube with (my brother) growing up, and you can get away with it, and I never knew if it would actually work,” he told NBC Sports of his decision to put his car into fifth gear and floor it, sending his car riding along the outside wall.
The maneuver paid off, and Chastain was able to pass five cars, finishing the race in fifth place.
The deftly-executed move left fans and viewers astounded, and Chastain managed to set a record for the fastest lap on the track, clocking in at 18.845 seconds.
Ars Technica broke down the physics behind the tricky racing move, explaining that Chastain likely learned it while playing NASCAR 2005: Chase For the Cup, which was released in 2004.
“Typically, when taking a tight turn on a racetrack, drivers brake to counteract forces that push their cars toward the outside of the track,” the website explained. “This braking action dramatically slows them down on the turn.
“This time, instead of slowing down for the turn, Chastain kept his car in fifth gear, hugged the wall, let go of the wheel, and allowed the wall to hold his car in place — no brakes necessary. That’s how he passed five cars and set a 75-year lap record.”
The risks of the move were high: if he hit something protruding from the wall, or didn’t position the car precisely, the results could have been disastrous.
However, it clearly paid off, leaving NASCAR fans, and the other drivers on the track, stunned.
One person claimed it might be “the greatest racing move in history.”
Another called Chastain a “real-life Ricky Bobby,” in reference to the tenacious protagonist of the 2006 fictional racing comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Others confirmed they’d also tried something similar on their gaming consoles as kids.
Some drivers were left wondering if NASCAR would ban the maneuver for this weekend’s championship race in Phoenix, but NASCAR vice-president Steve O’Donnell said copycats are welcome to try the move, if they dare.
“Certainly within the rules, what he did, and was able to execute it,” O’Donnell said Tuesday on SiriusXM 90.
“As with anything you see of the first time, you have to take a look. We’ve had a number of discussions internally about that move and all the what ifs but that’s within the rules and believe that’s where we’ll be for Phoenix as well and then something we can definitely evaluate in the offseason.”
Whether the move will be banned in coming seasons is something we probably won’t know for a while, but you can bet plenty of people will be watching this weekend’s championship race closely to see if anyone else tries to pull it off.