NASCAR’s Scott Miller said officials clearly saw Ryan Blaney with two hands on the steering wheel and the window net up coming to the overtime attempt in Sunday night’s All-Star Race.
“(There was) no way for us to know if he got it 100% latched or not,” said Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “And at that point in time, no way we can be certain that he didn’t get it latched, so there’s no way we could call him down pit road at that time.”
Blaney thought he won the All-Star Race in regulation, which is why he took the window net down on the backstretch. But he instead was just feet from crossing the finish line when the caution was displayed, and the special rules of the race dictated it must finish under the green flag.
Despite his best attempts, Blaney never appeared to get his window net properly fastened. However, he said he wasn’t going to pit for the issue to be resolved and that NASCAR deemed it safe on the backstretch coming to the restart.
Miller said it would have “gone out of character” for officials to have Blaney come down pit road to check if the window net was fastened.
“There was some speculation about doing that up there (in the tower), but we saw it, and no way we could have known it was latched properly or not,” Miller said.
“If it was hanging down on the door, if he couldn’t get it to where it was up and we had some doubt that it was latched, then we would have had to do something with it because we wouldn’t have allowed him to start if it was laying down on the door.”
On whether NASCAR would have brought Blaney down pit road to fasten the window net and allowed him to keep the lead, Miller said, “We speculated about doing that, but that would have been pretty out of character to bring someone down pit road and then put them back in the spot that they came out of.”
Miller admitted that NASCAR acted “probably prematurely” in calling the final caution after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into the wall off Turn 2.
“Everybody knows that we probably prematurely called that yellow flag,” Miller said. “The way that works in the tower is that we’re all watching around the racetrack and obviously, the race director who has the button and makes the call is the final say of when the yellow gets put out. We all watch, and we saw and mentioned the car against the wall, riding the wall down the back straightaway, and the race director looked up, and I’m not sure what he saw, but he immediately put (the yellow flag) out.
“So, wish we wouldn’t have done that, but we did that, and we’ll own that we probably prematurely put that caution out.”