It might be the greatest NASCAR move of all time and one never to be repeated after NASCAR banned it months later.
The “Hail Melon” move Ross Chastain pulled off at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last year has been played and replayed and will be celebrated again this weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville for Sunday’s 500-lap race.
Facing playoff elimination last year, Chastain took the white flag at the flat, half-mile, paperclip-shaped track in 10th-place knowing there was little chance he could pass the cars he needed to advance to the championship race.
He was two points outside the transfer position, but never thought of giving up.
In a maneuver that Dale Earnhardt Jr. described on the NBC television broadcast at the time as a “video game move,” Chastain shifted to another gear, mashed the throttle to the floorboard and hung on for dear life as his car slammed into the Martinsville’s outer walls.
Chastain kept his foot on the accelerator as the walls forced his skidding car around turns three and four at a much higher rate of speed than the rest of the field passing five cars, driving from 10th to fifth-place and into the championship race.
His final lap time was 2.5 seconds faster than of the 500 laps turned that day.
“I have never seen anything like that before in my life,” said Earnhardt Jr.’s fellow commentator Jeff Burton seconds after Chastain crossed the finish line.
The maneuver nicknamed the “Hail Melon” drew global recognition with more than 225 million video views and garnering more than 1.2B impressions. According to Lionel, the No. 1 Moose Fraternity Chevrolet from Martinsville was the top selling diecast of 2022.
Nobody will pull off their own version of the “Hail Melon” on Sunday after NASCAR banned the move earlier this year citing safety factors. Chastain will have the same No. 1 Moose Fraternity paint scheme, but a new Chevrolet this weekend.
However, fans at the Southern Virginia short track will still have a chance to relive history as his Trackhouse Racing team will put last year’s car on full display, wall scrapes and all, at the Chevrolet Activation Stage in the track’s fan midway Saturday and Sunday.
Chastain will bring a special helmet to Martinsville painted to replicate the damaged car – scrapes, texture and more in commemoration of the “Hail Melon.”
NBC will broadcast Sunday’s race at 2 p.m. ET.
Trackhouse Racing PR