It’s common these days to hear your favorite athletes talk about their experiences growing up playing video games like NBA 2K or Madden and how it influenced their performance in real-world competitions. It’s not often, though, that we hear about NASCAR drivers waxing poetic about their time playing video games as preparing them for races in real life. That was the case for NASCAR racer Ross Chastain this past weekend. In the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 qualifier race, Chastain pulled off a move straight out of a video game to squeak past the finish line just in time. The feat was so reminiscent of a video game move that it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that gaming is indeed where the racer got his inspiration.
After shocking the crowd at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday by intentionally slamming his car into the wall and fiercely accelerating, Ross Chastain told the NBC reporter that he’d drawn inspiration for his last-second maneuver from the time in his youth spent playing NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup on the Nintendo GameCube. Yes, a GameCube game gave him the idea, and at that moment, at the end of the race, Chastain decided it was time to see if the antics he pulled off in the game would net him a real win. Well, with this qualifier now under his belt, it turns out that those years playing GameCube paid off with some serious dividends.
It should be noted that Chastain’s video game-inspired technique on Sunday happened on NASCAR’s shortest track, a 0.526-mile circle, and possibly the only track it could work on. Martinsville, Virginia, the racetrack has earned nicknames like “the half-mile of mayhem” for the unorthodox strategies fans can sometimes see there from drivers. NASCAR’s other tracks, which can be up to two miles long or more, don’t offer the same type of opportunity for Chastain’s gamble. The corners at some raceways are too long for “wall-riding” techniques to be useful, and they certainly are not a great opportunity for copycats to attempt a repeat of Chastain’s achievement.