Ryan Blaney ran the final laps in overtime with a window net halfway attached; Drama for the $1,000,000 to win race
On Sunday, NASCAR unloaded in Fort Worth, Texas. The NASCAR All-Star Race paid $1,000,000 to the race winner.
Ryan Blaney won stage three. With stage one winner Kyle Busch sitting in the garage, that placed Blaney on the outside front row for the fourth and final stage.
When the green dropped, Blaney drove around Austin Cindric to take the race lead. From there, he drove away and looked to be heading to victory.
Typically, the rule is if they make it to the white flag lap, the next flag ends the race, whether that be a checkered flag or a yellow flag. For the All-Star Race, the rules are modified as the race must end under the green flag.
On the final lap of the 125 lap race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr ran high in turn two. He got out of the groove and brushed the outside wall.
Blaney was about 100 feet from the finish line. Yet, NASCAR threw the caution.
“That wasn’t a caution,” Dale Earnhardt Jr tweeted.
Ryan Blaney attempts to reattach the window net
Blaney wasn’t aware of that. He thought he won the race and was on the cool down lap. He took down his window net, as standard for the race winner.
Those window nets have an extreme amount of tension. They’re designed that way so they don’t flap in the wind and create drag. Latching them from inside the car, can’t be done.
Yet, the race was about to resume. For multiple caution laps, Blaney attempted to reattach the window net.
“You can undo the strap the strap in the front. That should help you out,” the crew radioed to their driver.
“Do what you gotta do. We’re trying to talk to somebody about it. They should definitely let us put it up,” the crew added.
Just before the restart, Blaney elected to pull the back half of the window net out of of it’s resting place. That allowed him to attach the latch at the front. Yet, that’s still not the proper way to attach the net as the back half of the net flapped in the wind.
NASCAR elected to let Blaney stay on the track and dropped the green flag. Blaney threw a huge block on Denny Hamlin off turn two. He went on to cross the finish line in first.
Ryan Blaney claimed the $1,000,000 prize at Texas Motor Speedway.
Ryan Blaney comments
“It was about to be real bad for us,” Ryan Blaney told Fox Sports after climbing from his car.
“I thought the race was over. Everyone thought the race was over. I already had my window net down.”
“I do wanna to thank NASCAR for letting me kinda fix it and not make us come down pit road. Yeah, that was really tough.”
“Then, having to do it all over again after trying to get that window net back up there. I know it’s not a points paying race but the party’s going to be pretty big.”
2nd place finisher Denny Hamlin isn’t having it
“Like we got given one, for sure,” Hamlin responded to Bob Pockrass on how he would feel if he won that race.
“But, we’ve had the fastest car four weeks in a row and somebody else got the win because we made a mistake. There are no moral victories. Just because someone should have won doesn’t mean that they should win.”
“Bob, I’m sure you will tweet the rule. This isn’t a Denny Hamlin judgement call. Whatever the rule is, lets be consistent and play by the rule.”
“It’s unfortunate because he made a mistake. He should have won the race, he was 100 yards from winning the race. But, many cars have not won a race because of a green-white-checkered or a mistake on a restart.”
“We know what the rules are and we play by them.”
Hamlin says NASCAR might have had a lawsuit if he crashed Ryan Blaney
“Where NASCAR really got away with one is, we nearly crashed off turn two. So, when I send him head first into traffic and the window net’s down, then they’ve got a lawsuit on their hands,” Hamlin added.
Blaney slammed the door shut on Hamlin off turn two in NASCAR overtime. It was close to a crash as they battled for $1M.
“Again, most deserving winner. But, if you make a mistake, you make a mistake. I don’t want a cherry. I just want to play by the rules.”
“If they just look away and say, ‘That rule don’t count right now’ then sure. Oh 100%,” Hamlin says he would have stayed out if he was in Blaney’s spot.
“I don’t know if it was a moral problem they had. If they were like, ‘Well, we cost him the win because we threw the caution.’ I think they had a moral dilemma instead of playing by the rules.”
“We’ve been talking about inconsistencies in the tower, for ages. It’s just no different, this week.
NASCAR admits mistakes
“Obviously, I think everybody knows that we probably preternaturally called that yellow flag,” NASCAR’s Scott Miller told reporters after the race.
“The way it works in the tower is we’re all watching around the race track. The race director, who has the button and makes the call is the final say of when the yellow gets put out.”
“We saw the car and mentioned the car against the wall. The race director looked up and I’m not sure what he saw but he immediately put it out.”
“So, wish we wouldn’t have done that. But, we’ll own that we probably prematurely put that caution out.”
NASCAR comments on the window net
Blaney then took his window net down, thinking he won the race.
“Obviously, Ryan Blaney thought he won the race. Another bi-product of special rules for the All-Star. Because, every other race that we do besides this one, he would have won the race when the caution flag came out.”
“So, they were celebrating. He put the window net down. We saw him struggling to get it back up.”
“But, coming to green, he was warming his tires on the back straight away, you can clearly see both hands on the wheel. The window net was up. No way for us to know if he got it 100% latched or not.”
“At that point in time, no way we could be certain that he didn’t get it latched. So, there’s no way we could call him down pit road.”
NASCAR considered pulling Blaney down pit road for officials to check if it was latched.
“That would have really been out of character and anything else that we have done. There was some speculation about doing that up there.”
“If it was hanging down on the door and he couldn’t get it to where it was up and we had doubt that it was latched then we would have had to do something with it.”
Miller concluded, “We wouldn’t have allowed him to start if it was just laying down on the door.”