Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race was unique – that’s for sure. With some changes made to the format and rules this season, it was certainly an adjustment for everyone. When you add those changes onto multiple wrecks, it made for an interesting evening at Texas Motor Speedway.
As 24 of the motorsport’s top drivers took to the track to race for $1 million, there was plenty of excitement – from both a positive and negative perspective. While big-name drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott were all competing, they were all knocked out of the race due to car damages. Because of that, the All-Star Race became anyone’s to win.
Although Busch won Stage 1 and appeared to have the fastest car on the track, he had a tire blow out and ultimately spun – causing a big pileup and ending his night. Seeing the opportunity to make a climb up the leaderboard, Ryan Blaney – who started second – ultimately drove his No. 12 Team Penske Ford to Victory Lane and secured the check.
Blaney held a significant advantage heading down the stretch and was easily going to win, but it ended up not being that simple for him. As he was just about to cross the finish line, a caution flag was thrown – which added two more laps onto the race. Not knowing about the late yellow flag, Blaney was already celebrating his victory and had removed his window net to climb out of his car. It took him forever to get it back up, but he was able to refasten it and soon recross the finish line for the actual win.
While the late caution and window net situation irritated many people, NASCAR later admitted that it “probably prematurely” called the yellow flag.
Was There Good Enough Reason to Call the Late Caution?
I don’t think anyone agreed with NASCAR’s decision to toss a yellow flag right before Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line. I mean, it was the very last lap of an All-Star Race – and Blaney had a big advantage. No one was going to catch him. It was certainly a bad judgement, and NASCAR knows it.
“Wish we wouldn’t have done that,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “But, we did that – and we’ll own that we probably prematurely put that caution out.”
In terms of Blaney’s window net situation, Miller said it wasn’t the driver’s fault for removing it – simply because he thought he had won the race.
“They were celebrating, he put the window net down,” Miller said. “We saw him struggling to put it back up. But coming to green, he was warming his tires back on the back straightaway. You could clearly see both hands on the wheel, the window net was up. … No way for us to know if he got it up 100% latched or not. At that point in time, no way we could be certain that he didn’t get it latched.”