Ryan Blaney Wins NASCAR Million-Dollar All-Star Race

Ryan Blaney wins the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Ryan Blaney crosses the finish line to win the annual NASCAR All-Star Race Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 22. Photo by David Barks. [email protected]

Elliott Stern, Sports Editor, [email protected]

FORT WORTH, Tx – Unusual, to say the least.

Ryan Blaney won NASCAR’S All-Star Race Sunday night, May 22, as the race returned to Texas Motor Speedway for the second straight year, earning a million-dollar payday in the non-points race but a late caution created a strange ending.

Blaney’s team celebrated a dominating win over Denny Hamlin and the rest of the 24-car field only to be told they had to do it all over again.

Blaney took the lead early in the third stage of the four-stage race and held it the rest of the way for his first All-Star victory.

Just before Blaney took the checkered flag, Ricky Stenhouse Jr hit the wall, bringing and the yellow flag flew.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr crosses the finish line to win the 20-lap first stage of the NASCAR All-Star Open Race Sunday afternoon at the Texas Motor Speedway. In the All-Star Race, Stenhouse crashed on the final lap, setting up overtime. Photo by David Barks. [email protected]

Since the caution was called just before Blaney crossed the finish line, the race wasn’t over – setting up a two-lap overtime.

“It was a really fun night. I had a really fast race car. We were in position to win and I was able to do it,” said Blaney. “I thought the race was over. Everyone thought the race was over. I already had my window net down.

But they still had to do a two-lap race to the checkered flag and Blaney struggled to get the net back into position.

As the cars rolled under caution, Blaney could be seen trying to find a way to get the net back up.

When the caution came out, Blaney held a 2.9-second lead over Denny Hamlin.

Things tightened up after the restart but Blaney was able to off Hamlin for a 0.266-second victory.

“I do want to thank NASCAR for letting me kind of fix it and not make us come down pit road,” said Blaney. “But yeah, that was really tough. Then having to do it all over again after trying to get that window net back up there.

Denny Hamlin crosses the finish line to finish second at the annual NASCAR All-Star Race Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks. [email protected]

Hamlin, who finished a hair behind Blaney, told Fox’s Bob Pockrass that he thought Blaney should have been black flagged.

“You know, it’s tough because he deserved to win the race, but if you mess up and you break a rule – not intentionally, but there’s rules and we have rules in place for safety,” Hamlin said.

Hamlin later tweeted, “Never should have been a yellow in the first place. They (NASCAR) put Blaney in the position he was in. To make up for it they let him break a rule. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Defending All-Star race winner Kyle Larson was out of the race early second stage when he blew a right front tire and slammed into the wall, ending his day.

In the early going, it was all Kyle Busch.

Starting on the pole Busch led the first 48 laps when disaster struck.

Busch blew a tire coming out of turn four. As he tried to get to the bottom of the track, Ross Chastain, who was running third, slammed into Busch’s car, and then slid into Chase Elliott, knocking all three out of the race.

“I just got a flat tire coming out of four – right rear is flat,” said Busch. “It’s unfortunate for our guys at Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota, M&M’s. We gad a really fast race car, great race car.  Disappointing to not be able to go out and race for a million bucks.”

Blaney’s Roger Penske teammate Austin Cindric, who was running second at the time of the Busch accident, moved into the lead, holding on to win Stage 2 with Blaney second.

After Blaney grabbed the lead in Stage 3, there was no looking back.

Cindric ended up third, right behind Hamlin.

Austin Cindric crosses the finish line third at the annual NASCAR All-Star Race Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks. [email protected]

Rounding out the top 10 were Penske’s Joey Logano (whose team won the $10-thousand pit crew challenge), Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, and Christopher Bell.

The All-Star Race featured the season’s top 24 cars.

Twenty drivers qualified for their accomplishments through the first part of the season.

Three of the final racers won their spots through the three-stage All-Star Open with the final driver chosen by the fan’s vote.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr earned the first spot, leading all 20 laps of the Open’s first stage.

Chris Buescher started fourth in the second 20-lap stage but moved in front with eight laps to go to claim the second spot in the main event.

Daniel Suarez led all 10 laps of the final stage to race his way into the All-Star Race and Erik Jones was chosen by the fans to get the final spot in the field.

Ryan Blaney celebrates in the Winner’s Circle after winning the annual NASCAR All-Star Race Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks. [email protected]

NASCAR heads to Charlotte next week for the Coca-Cola 600, then to southern Illinois for the Enjoy Illinois 300 before returning to California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 over the road course at Sonoma Raceway.

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