OPINION | This article contains commentary that reflects the author's opinion.
Last year, NASCAR driver Ross Chastain pulled off the “Hail Melon” move by slamming the gas and purposefully hitting the speedway wall to pass several competitors. He advanced to the final round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
While the move may live on for the ages, NASCAR announced new rules for its 2023 competition which bans the “Hail Melon.” A driver would get a lap or time penalty if they attempted the move.
The NASCAR rules are aimed at ensuring the safety for the drivers.
NASCAR says this will never happen again & makes it an illegal move ⬇️ @RossChastain @MartinsvilleSwy pic.twitter.com/hM1MLDgCkX
— SpeedFreaks (@SpeedFreaks) January 31, 2023
“Safety is a top priority for NASCAR. 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.”
Some drivers agreed that it was a dangerous move, and they were surprised that Chastain’s car stayed on the track.
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said, “It brought a great deal of excitement, a great deal of exposure to our sport, but it also came with some scrutiny.”
Sawyer said, “If there’s an act that we feel is compromising the safety of our competitors, officials, and spectators, we’re going to take that seriously.”
“We will penalize that act going forward. That move at Martinsville would be a penalty.”
More on this story via Fox Sports:
NASCAR will no longer have cautions at the end of stages on road courses. It will still award points at the end of stages but will not throw the caution. The only exception will be stand-alone truck and Xfinity events where the teams don’t have specific over-the-wall pit crews and have had breaks at the end of stages to service the vehicles.
Losing a wheel means there will no longer be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two crew members.
If it happens on pit road, it will be a restart at the tail of the field if under caution and a pass-through penalty under green. If it happens beyond pit road, it is a two-lap penalty and a two-race suspension for two crew members. With NASCAR switching from five lug nuts to one larger center lug nut for Cup last year, many felt the four-race suspensions were too severe as teams would not be trying to leave a wheel loose (with five lug nuts, the tendency was to tighten only three or four).