Ross Chastain does the Hail Melon at Martinsville Speedway via NASCAR YouTube

NASCAR Bans Ross Chastain’s ‘Hail Melon’ Move, Removes Cautions From Road Course Stages In Major Rule Changes For Upcoming Season

NASCAR announced new rules for the upcoming 2023 season that includes a ban on moves like Ross Chastain’s ‘Hail Melon’ at Martinsville and the removal of caution flags at the end of stages for road courses.

Ross Chastain via NASCAR YouTube

NASCAR announced the rule changes in a post on their official website explaining that they are not actually including new language or creating a new rule to ban Chastain’s ‘Hail Melon,’ but will use NASCAR rule to ban the move.

The league explained, “NASCAR will not add new language to the rule book but instead point to rule, which states: “Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Ross Chastain via NASCAR YouTube

NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer also added, “Basically, if there’s an act that we feel that compromises the safety of our competitors, officials, spectators, we’re going to take that seriously. And we will penalize for that act going forward.”

Sawyer added, “Basically, what it would be is a lap or time penalty at the end of the race, so that move at Martinsville would be a penalty.”

RELATED: Joey Logano Reacts To Ross Chastain’s Wall-Ride Move, Calls For NASCAR To Outlaw It

Following Chastain’s move at Martinsville numerous drivers wanted the move banned. Eventual NASCAR Champion Joey Logano was one of those drivers, who also happened to praise the move.

He said, “As spectacular as it was and as much as it worked, the problem is now the box is open. Right now every Xfinity race, every truck race, every Cup race, no matter the track, this wall riding is gonna be a play. That’s not good. That’s not good.”

“It was awesome, it was cool like I mean it happened for the first time, there’s no rule against it,” he continued. “There needs to be a rule against this one because it’s — I don’t know if you want the whole field riding the wall coming to the checkered flag. I don’t know for one if it’s the safest thing for a driver or the fans when you got a car right up against the wall hauling the mail like that, right?”

“What if that catch fence, the gate wasn’t closed all the way way or what if it bent and it caught his car. That’s a big, big risk that Ross is willing to take. And God bless him and that’s awesome, but I don’t think we need to do that every week,” Logano stated.

Joey Logano via NASCAR YouTube

RELATED: Kyle Larson Calls Ross Chastain’s Last Lap Move At Martinsville “Embarrassing” And “Not A Good Look For Our Sport” Despite Attempting Similar Move At Darlington

Former NASCAR Champion Kyle Larson described the move as “embarrasing” and “not a good look for our sport.”

Larson told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long, “Gosh, it’s just a bad look. I’m embarrassed that I did it at Darlington and it probably, you know, if maybe I didn’t do it last year people wouldn’t even think to do that. So I’m embarrassed myself and glad that I didn’t win that way.”

“And that’s just not a good look,” he reiterated. “It’s not a good look. Between yesterday, and how embarrassing that was at the Xfinity race and there at the finish. It’s embarrassing.”

When pressed on why it’s embarrassing, Larson detailed, “I guess I’d ask you guys what makes that not embarrassing? Also, I don’t know what your guys’ opinion —  isn’t or it is. But if you think that’s fair, why would you think that’s fair?”

The other major rule change is the removal of caution flags at the end of stages during road course races. NASCAR explained in their post, “The removal of stage cautions at road courses comes following a review of Fan Council Data and industry discussions. Stage points will still be awarded at the stage-ending lap, but the green-checkered flag will not be displayed and there will not be a caution period to interrupt the action.”

Sawyer noted the change comes in an attempt to add an element of strategy back to the road courses, ““When we introduced stage racing four or five years ago, we took an element of strategy away from the event [at road courses]. So we felt like this is going to bring some new storylines.”

Interestingly this change only applies to the Cup Series as notes, “Standalone road-course races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races (Portland, Mid-Ohio, Road America) will continue to see caution periods separate stages.”

Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin via NASCAR YouTube

RELATED: Kevin Harvick Announces Retirement From NASCAR Following 2023 Season

Other changes for the upcoming 2023 season per include:

  • The “choose rule” for determining the restart order has been expanded for the 2023 season, with superspeedway and dirt-track events adopting the procedure.
  • The restart zone for the first five events of the season will be increased by 50% in length. Officials indicated they would assess after the Atlanta event whether the larger restart zone would be used in subsequent races.
  • NASCAR officials adjusted the damaged vehicle policy (DVP), establishing a seven-minute repair clock for work performed on pit road. As was the case last year, no specialized repair tools are allowed. Toe links are allowed to be replaced on pit road during the allotted time.
  • Competition officials also updated its event procedure rules regarding vehicle interference with crews during pit stops. Vehicles encroaching on other pit stalls when coming in for service may result in a penalty. Stalls will be highlighted with new orange markings on pit road to assist officials in making those calls.
Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott race to the end of Stage 1 in the Yellawood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway via NASCAR YouTube

What do you make of NASCAR outlawing the Hail Melon move and removing cautions from the end of stages during road course races?

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