Here's the statements by Bell the winner and Chastain's on that epic move to get into the final four.
“Mom and dad, we did it — wow,” an emotional Bell said after the race. “I can’t believe it, man. To come here in Martinsville, this place has always been so tough on me. Just pre-race looking up, seeing all the fans, this place is packed… I don’t even know what to say.
“Man, I say it all the time, but the driver is just a small piece of the puzzle for these races. The reason why this car won today is because it was the best car on the race track. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens… this entire 20 group, they just never give up. When our back is against the wall, looks like it’s over, they show up and give me the fastest car out here.”
The victory was Bell‘s third of the season and his second in a must-win situation. On Oct. 9, he won the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to stave off elimination from the playoffs.
But it was Chastain who added most significantly to the lore of the historic 0.526-mile short track with a shocking trip around Turns 3 and 4 that knocked veteran Denny Hamlin out of the playoffs.
Running 10th and facing elimination on the last lap, Chastain pinned his No. 1 Chevrolet to the outside wall entering Turn 3, kept his throttle open and rocketed around the fence as if he had just ignited an afterburner. The amazing move carried Chastain past Hamlin and into the Championship 4. Chastain completed the final lap in 18.845 seconds, 0.864 seconds faster than Larson‘s pole-winning time.
“I made the choice, grabbed fifth gear down the back,” Chastain said. “Fully committed. Basically let go of the wheel, hoping I didn’t catch the Turn 4 access gate or something crazy. But I was willing to do it.
“I just cannot believe that we have a chance to go fight for a championship. All we ask for is a chance. We kept our world small this year so far. We’ll do the same thing going to Phoenix.”
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