I think we can certainly say that the 2022 edition of the NASCAR All-Star Race will go down in history, although it probably won’t be for a very positive reason.
Ryan Blaney was able to secure his first victory in the NASCAR All-Star Race, taking home the coveted $1-million prize, but had to endure multiple instances of hell to get to the point where that was even possible.
The 28-year-old had a stranglehold on the field throughout most of Sunday’s 140-lap contest from Texas Motor Speedway, taking the lead with 84 laps to go and not looking back, capturing the second exhibition victory for Team Penske in 2022.
Initially, it looked like Kyle Busch would be Blaney’s biggest competition in securing the All-Star victory, until the Joe Gibbs Racing entry suffered a flat right-rear tire, causing the two-time series champion to dramatically slow.
Ross Chastain made significant contact with the slowing No. 18, launching his Chevrolet over the left-front corner of the M&M’s-sponsored entry, while also collecting Chase Elliott. All three drivers were able to walk away, despite heavy impacts.
Blaney’s teammate, Austin Cindric, also had a strong showing in his first NASCAR All-Star Race appearance, inheriting the race lead after the multi-car accident in the closing laps of stage two. The rookie was able to hold on and win the second stage in NASCAR Overtime, awarding him the first-place starting spot in the final stage.
The only other driver to hold the lead in Sunday’s event was William Byron, who led the first two laps on the restart in stage three, before being passed by race-winner, Ryan Blaney.
In what was a fairly uneventful race, the turning point came as it was set to be completed, as slight wall contact for Ricky Stenhouse Jr triggered a caution flag just seconds before the Team Penske driver crossed the finish line.
Thinking he had just won the race, Blaney began to celebrate and lowered his window net, as drivers usually do when on their cooldown lap. However, with NASCAR’s ruling for the All-Star Race that the event must finish under green, the race would see another restart.
However, Blaney had issues trying to get the window net back into its mandated position, attempting to put together a temporary fix in order to avoid having to come down pit road and serve a penalty.
Despite Blaney’s window net not being 100-percent secured, NASCAR told the No. 12 team that things were looking good, allowing the restart to happen as the team didn’t have a fully-functional window net, which became evident throughout the run.
— Dylan Goodin (@dgoodin24) May 23, 2022
Denny Hamlin finished the race in second place, with Austin Cindric, Joey Logano, and Daniel Suarez earning finishes inside the top five. Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-10.
The race featured a total of eight cautions for 31 laps, which provided a significant amount of attrition, with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch, and Erik Jones all retiring from the event.