NASCAR driver Ross Chastain went from 10th to 5th in the last corner of the 500 lap yesterday, securing a place in the season-ending Cup race as well as a place in NASCAR history. And he did it with the help of a technique he learned in a video game.
Chastain used the classic “run into the wall” maneuver: he accelerated at full speed to the barrier on the race track and let it carry him past five rivals. This reckless act not only secured Chastain’s team, Trackhouse Racing, its first ever NASCAR Championship Finals, but also set the record for the fastest lap in the history of Martinsville Speedway, where the race took place.
“I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube as a kid,” he said in an interview after the race, “and I never knew if it would actually work. I mean, I did it when I was 8 years old.” However, this did not convince him: “I just made a choice. I turned on the fifth gear and gave myself completely,” after which he “practically let go of the wheel” and left the gods of racing cars to decide his fate.
It clearly worked, as evidenced by Chastain’s four-driver place in the Championship this coming Sunday, but not everyone is happy with the driver’s game-inspired antics. Last year’s champion Kyle Larson told reporters the move “doesn’t look good for our sport.” […] I think it’s pretty embarrassing.” Of course, Larson himself attempted a similar but unsuccessful move at a race last year, so maybe he’s just jealous of Chastain’s technique.
It’s a dramatic example of video games moving into the real world, but it’s far from the only intersection between the NASCAR world and ours. More than a few NASCAR drivers support their skills with iRacing, a racing simulator with strict rules