Ryan Blaney became a first-time All-Star Race winner Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway with a half-fastened window net, plus surviving an overtime restart.
Blaney dominated the race upon taking the lead on lap 57 as he led the final 84 laps. He was easily cruising toward the win by over two seconds on Denny Hamlin when the caution flew just moments before he crossed the finish line.
Caution came before Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag. We are going back racing in Texas. https://t.co/tV2kVuruLV pic.twitter.com/I27rJQfghp
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 23, 2022
NASCAR rules state the All-Star Race must finish under green and the caution was displayed with Blaney just feet from the finish line. Blaney thought the race was over and had lowered his window net. Under caution, he tried feverishly to get it re-hooked but to no avail. Before coming to the restart, the window net was somewhat fastened, and Blaney then cleared Hamlin off Turn 2 to take the victory.
“It was about to be real bad for us – I thought the race was over. Everyone thought the race was over and I already had my window net down,” Blaney said. “I do want to thank NASCAR for letting me kind of fix it and not make us come down pit road. Yeah, that was really tough, and then having to do it all over again after getting that window net back up there… Great car; Jonathan Hassler and everybody on this No. 12 group did a great job.
“This is cool. I know it’s not a points-winning race but it’s going to be a lot of fun. The party is going to be pretty big.”
The final caution was for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brushing into the wall off Turn 2.
This is Blaney’s first win in six All-Star Race starts.
Hamlin finished second. Austin Cindric won the second stage and finished third. Joey Logano finished fourth and Daniel Suarez completed the top five.
Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske team won the $100,000 bonus at the end of Stage 2 for having the best overall time on pit road, including their four-tire stop. As a result, Logano started the final stage third.
Alex Bowman finished sixth, AJ Allmendinger seventh, Chris Buescher eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth and Christopher Bell 10th.
Five drivers failed to finish the race.
Erik Jones crashed in Turn 4 in the final stage. Kyle Busch, who won the first stage, Ross Chastain, and Chase Elliott were eliminated in the second stage when Busch had a right rear tire go down and was hit by Chastain who collected Elliott. Kyle Larson was eliminated at the end of the first stage when he blew a tire and crashed.
There were three lead changes among four drivers and eight caution flags.