FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Ryan Blaney netted his first NASCAR All-Star Race win Sunday after seeing the checkered flag wave twice at Texas Motor Speedway.
Blaney finally took the checkered flag in overtime ahead of Denny Hamlin. The overtime was set off by a caution on the final lap of regulation as Blaney entered the dogleg and saw the checkered flag waving, for the first time.
Blaney held a near three-second lead when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. blew a right-rear tire on the backstretch which triggered a caution coming to the checkers. Regular rules would’ve ended the race with Blaney winning but overtime was triggered by the amended All-Star Race-only rules.
Thinking of the typical rules, Blaney pulled the window net and then had to try to put it back into place before the overtime restart. Blaney rigged the window net with a bungee cord – already in the car for any shifter issues – and had no issues as he held off Denny Hamlin for the overtime win.
On Twitter, Hamlin argued there “never should have been a yellow in the first place. They put Blaney in the situation he was in. To make up for it, they let him break a rule. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Blaney W, NASCAR L.”
NASCAR’s Scott Miller addressed the caution and stated, “we’ll own that we prematurely put the caution out.” Miller also addressed the window net situation, saying, “We saw it but there’s no way we would’ve known it was properly latched or not.”
During the caution, Blaney could be seen holding up the window net as he tried to tighten it with the bungee cord. NASCAR’s precedent is to black flag a driver for a loose window net, as it is deemed a safety issue. However, Blaney was not black-flagged and said, post-race, officials deemed the net to be safe.
In his post-race availability, Denny Hamlin said, on the safety concerns, “Where NASCAR really got away with one is we nearly crashed off of two [in overtime] so if I sent him head-first into traffic and the window net is down, I don’t know, they’d have a lawsuit on their hands.”
Social media discussion suggested NASCAR let Blaney pit and fix the window net as a special circumstance for the special exhibition event. However, Miller stated, “It would’ve been out of character from anything we’ve ever done to bring someone down pit road.”
In the 2001 NASCAR All-Star Race, sudden rainfall triggered a multi-car wreck in turn 1 on Lap 1. Officials allowed the teams involved to pull out a backup car, including Jeff Gordon’s team who went on to win the race.
Blaney won the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race after starting the fourth and final stage in second, between teammates Austin Cindric and Joey Logano who started the stage in first and third.
Cindric earned his spot by winning stage two, while Logano’s team earned the spot by winning the pit-stop contest between stages two and three.
Blaney quickly took the lead from Cindric at the start of the final stage and survived two restarts to win.
The top-10 finishers are as follows: Ryan Blaney (led 84 laps), Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric (led seven laps), Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell.
Fifth-place finisher Daniel Suarez advanced into the All-Star Race by winning the Open race. Eighth-place finisher Chris Buescher advanced by winning stage two of the Open.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished 19th, one lap down, after advancing into the All-Star Race by winning stage one of the Open race. Stenhouse had a tire go down in stage two of the All-Star Race and had it happen again on the final lap of regulation.
Kyle Busch led the first 47 laps and was three laps away from a clean sweep of the first two stages when a right-rear tire blew.
Busch slowed on the frontstretch and Ross Chastain ran into the left-rear of Busch’s car with nowhere else to go. Chastain launched into the air and nearly flipped going into turn one. As he landed, he clipped Chase Elliott, who spun and hit the outside wall hard.
Busch, Chastain and Elliott joined Kyle Larson in the garage as they finished 21st through 24th Sunday. Larson wrecked in turn four on Lap 35 which took him out of the race.
Erik Jones was the only other retiree as he wrecked on Lap 103 and finished 20th. Jones advanced into the All-Star Race via the fan vote.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the May 29 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET; TV: FOX; Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio; Stages 100/100/100/100).