Ryan Blaney wins controversy-plagued All-Star Race

The NASCAR All-Star Race has been a polarising event in recent years for its perceived gimmicks (some of which would later be implemented for points rounds) to compensate for poor racing. The 2022 race, held at the much-maligned Texas Motor Speedway, did little to quell fan frustration as an officiating conundrum befell the finish: Ryan Blaney was only metres away from crossing the finish when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked, creating a caution that resulted in overtime; despite lowering his window net for the cooldown lap and being unable to return it to the original location, he held off Denny Hamlin to win anyway.

Right before Blaney could take the checkered flag, the yellow came out for Stenhouse hitting the backstretch wall, though he did not receive severe damage. Nevertheless, NASCAR elected to call the caution. Under traditional rules, a race would end if the yellow flag waved on the final lap, but All-Star rules mandated it must conclude under green, justifying overtime.

Before the restart, Blaney took down the window net under the assumption he had won, but could not replace it in time and therefore continued racing. Such an act comes with obvious safety concerns, and Section 14.3.3.3.1 of the rulebook stipulates window net fasteners must remain secured at all times (without the use of tape or zip ties) during a race. Despite this, no penalty was given.

Blaney quickly quashed concerns of having the win taken away from him by beating Hamlin to the finish in overtime. It is Blaney’s first All-Star victory and first for Team Penske since Joey Logano in 2016.

To little surprise, the fiasco was widely ridiculed by many, including fans and drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on Twitter that NASCAR will “gladly let you debate the window net so as you don’t reflect on how ridiculous that yellow flag situation was as Blaney was crossing the finish line to win.”

Hamlin pointed out the hypocrisy in not penalising Blaney for the lowered window net. A previous case came in the 2013 Daytona 500 Duels, where Mike Bliss‘ netting came loose and resulted in a black flag, which prevented him from making the 500.

“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. 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Blaney W, NASCAR L,” Hamlin tweeted. He followed by quipping that Mark Martin‘s 1994 Xfinity Series victory at Bristol has been restored, a reference to Martin pulling to pit road and dropping his window with the belief that he had won when he had actually exited the race with one lap remaining.

“We were cruising there and I just wanted to get to the white to have it covered and then the caution came out off of four,” said Blaney. “I thought it was like any other race. That rule was never kind of relayed to us. I already took my window net down and everything. My left arm is worn out from trying to get that damn thing back up. I got it rigged up enough to where it halfway stayed. I appreciate NASCAR for not making us come down pit road to fix it and letting me get it clipped back again to where we could stay out there.”

Daniel Suárez, who finished fourth, won the All-Star Open to make the feature. Stenhouse had won the Open’s first stage while Chris Buescher claimed the second to start last in the All-Star before finishing eighth. Erik Jones won the Fan Vote but was caught in a late crash.

Tyre problems, which have plagued the Next Gen cars and Goodyear all season, came back in chaotic fashion when pole-sitter Kyle Busch‘s tyre went down on lap 49. Ross Chastain attempted to squeeze between Busch and the tri-oval grass, a move that failed spectacularly when he was instead shot into the air before landing on his wheels. Other retirements included reigning All-Star winner Kyle Larson and the previous year’s victor Chase Elliott.

All-Star Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 2 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 140 Running
2 16 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 140 Running
3 12 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 140 Running
4 9 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 140 Running
5 23 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 140 Running
6 20 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 140 Running
7 10 16 A.J. Allmendinger* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 140 Running
8 22 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 140 Running
9 18 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 140 Running
10 14 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 140 Running
11 3 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 140 Running
12 8 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 140 Running
13 5 45 Kurt Busch 23XI Racing Toyota 140 Running
14 7 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 140 Running
15 19 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 140 Running
16 17 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 140 Running
17 15 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 140 Running
18 11 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 140 Running
19 21 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 139 Running
20 24 43 Erik Jones Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet 103 Accident
21 1 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 47 Accident
22 6 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 47 Accident
23 13 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 47 Accident
24 4 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 36 Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points

All-Star Open results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 2 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 50 Running
2 7 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 50 Running
3 6 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 50 Running
4 8 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 50 Running
5 4 43 Erik Jones Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet 50 Running
6 12 42 Ty Dillon Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet 50 Running
7 10 41 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 50 Running
8 14 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 50 Running
9 13 51 Cody Ware Rick Ware Racing Ford 50 Running
10 15 15 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing Ford 50 Running
11 16 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Ford 50 Running
12 1 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 42 Accident
13 9 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 42 Accident
14 5 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 40 Stage 2 Win
15 11 77 Landon Cassill* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Accident
16 3 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 20 Stage 1 Win

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