NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Blaney wins controversy-plagued All-Star Race

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1212Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord140Running
21611Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota140Running
3122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord140Running
4922Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord140Running
52399Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet140Running
62048Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet140Running
71016A.J. Allmendinger*Kaulig RacingChevrolet140Running
82217Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord140Running
9186Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord140Running
101420Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota140Running
11324William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet140Running
12810Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord140Running
13545Kurt Busch23XI RacingToyota140Running
14719Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota140Running
151934Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord140Running
161723Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota140Running
17154Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord140Running
181114Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord140Running
192147Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet139Running
202443Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet103Accident
21118Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota47Accident
2261Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet47Accident
23139Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet47Accident
2445Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet36Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points

All-Star Open results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1299Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet50Running
273Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet50Running
3631Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet50Running
487Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
5443Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
61242Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
71041Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord50Running
81438Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord50Running
91351Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord50Running
101515Garrett SmithleyRick Ware RacingFord50Running
111678B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsFord50Running
1218Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet42Accident
13921Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord42Accident
14517Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord40Stage 2 Win
151177Landon Cassill*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet25Accident
16347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet20Stage 1 Win
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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