Ryan Blaney All-Star Dominator at Texas

(FORT WORTH, TX – MAY 22, 2022 – RIS) Ryan Blaney easily led the most laps in winning the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway before going on to win the million-dollar special race in overtime when the caution lights came on as he approached the finish line. A slide into the wall by Ricky Stenhouse caused the last second yellow. Blaney led three Penske cars to top four finishes, with only second-place Denny Hamlin breaking up the trio of Blaney, Cindric and Logano.

At the start, Kyle Busch leaped out to the lead of the All-Star ahead of Ryan Blaney with William Byron and Kyle Larson in pursuit, Larson taking third. Alex Bowman started last after an unapproved adjustment to the rear end of the car but started moving up through the field, gaining about a position every other lap.

Daniel Suarez gained nine positions before settling into a battle with AJ Allmendinger for 13th, finally getting the position with one lap remaining in the first stage.

Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Kurt Busch, Ross Chastain, Martin Truex Jr, Joey Logano, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott were the top ten at the end of the stage.

Two tire changes ruled the outcome of the stage break stops, with Kurt Busch gaining, along with other competitors, but the top eight stayed on the track. On the restart, Ryan Blaney slipped, losing to fifth position from second.

Bubba Wallace and Kevin Harvick both pitted with Harvick’s team changing the ride height on the front end and Wallace’s car suffering a loose wheel.

Blaney passed Chastain on the inside but the car wiggled, he slid to the top of the track and fell back to sixth, then seventh, while Byron moved into fourth. Lap 37 saw Kyle Larson pay the penalty for not taking new tires during the break, blowing the right front and slamming into the fourth turn wall. He immediately told his crew that he “blew the right front” before adding that he was alright. “Just had a right front tire let go,” commented Larson. “I got moved up, but I don’t really think that made the (tire) wear any worse. It just let go in the center and took off. I hate that it happened. I feel like our car was good enough, depending on restarts since you can’t pass at all, especially the leader anyways.

“We’ll move on and look forward to the Coca-Cola 600, and hopefully put on some good racing there,” Larson concluded.

Headed to the restart, Ross Chastain reported to the team that he thought his right rear was losing pressure but he had to feel it at speed. Apparently, the tire was OK because he battled briefly with Kyle Busch before Austin Cindric took second place from him.

Kyle Busch suffered a flat right rear, slowed suddenly and the scramble took out Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, with Chastain almost launching into a rollover when he impacted the rear of Busch’s car. Chastain then slid up and sent Elliott’s car into the wall.

“I just misjudged it – really avoidable on my part,” said Elliott. “I saw the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) had a problem;
and then I saw the No. 1 (Ross Chastain) hit him really hard. I just didn’t give him enough room. I knew he was going to go straight;
I just didn’t realize he was going to go that far right that quick. I just kind of misjudged it. It was really avoidable on my end. I just kind of messed up and didn’t get the gap shot quick enough.

“Hate it. I thought our No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy was surprisingly pretty good for me and Texas (Motor Speedway) so I was pretty excited about it;
looking forward to getting going and seeing what we had here towards the end. I thought we were sitting in a really good spot with strategy and things like that. We’ll try again next week.”

“Felt like the driver of the 1 car chose the wrong lane – I guessed left and I should have gone right,” said Chastain. “It felt like the driver of the No. 1 car chose the wrong lane to get in. Our Worldwide Express Chevy was tight all night and we were just managing the tightness. I saw Kyle (Busch) have an issue with a tire down. I guessed left and I should have guessed right.

It was a big hit into Kyle. It was a tough break, but we had a fast car.”

Just got a flat tire off of [turn] four – disappointing to not finish it out,” reported Busch after getting released from the track medical center.

Austin Cindric jumped to a lead with a push from William Byron, taking the lead from Ryan Blaney with Byron shooting around Blaney for second place but Blaney won the drag race off of turn four to take second. Cindric will have the pole for the final fifty-lap stage after the end of the thir stage. 

A mandatory four-tire stop will be timed during this break, with the top four teams earning their drivers the top four positions at the start of the final stage of 50 laps.

Cindric’s air hose got caught under the front of the No. 2 Ford, slowing his stop. Byron exited the pits first, but timing determined the actual order. Joey Logano’s Paul Wolfe-led team earned him the pole for the last stage, plus a $100,000 bonus for the team.

Byron, Blaney, Suarez and Bell headed the restart for this 25-lap third stage. Blaney drove around for the lead and Christopher Bell moved up to start challenging Byron for second, with Daniel Suarez lurking in fourth.

Bell smacked the wall to cause an overtime finish in th e third stage.

A Penske troika of Blaney, Cindric and Logano led the field, with Suarez and Hamlin following. Bubba Wallace pitted on lap 17 of the stage, reporting a flat tire, dropping down a lap, but at lap 25, NASCAR would throw a competition caution,  but Erik Jones’ spin off of Turn Four caused a ‘natural’ caution, negating the competition caution. The lead trio stayed out with many of the teas pitting opting for right-side tires.

Blaney and Cindric drove away from their chasers, with Hamlin moving up into third, with Logano’s car losing the handle, fading back to fifth.

It took only a few laps for Hamlin to get around a slightly slowing Cindric and into second.

With ten laps left, Blaney’s gap was right at two and a half seconds, with the margin inching up slightly each lap. 

Blaney’s team celebrated prematurely as the caution flew for Ricky Stenhouse spun on the back straight, ending the run for the checker as this special event is required to end under the green flag, regardless of the timing, unlike points-paying races. Blaney unhooked his window net, thinking that he had won the million-dollar special and was unable to reconnect it, taking the restart green with a bard push from teammate Cindric. Cindric raced Hamlin until Hamlin passed to take second with Cindric, Logano and Suarez the top five at the eventual finish.

Following the race, Hamlin commented that he “just needed to stay beside the 12 (Ryan Blaney). 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. My crew chief is taking four weeks off because of safety. I nearly crashed him off of turn two when I got squeezed there. If I send him into traffic and he’s got no window net, then what right? Luckily, that didn’t happen and NASCAR avoids another controversy because there wasn’t a wreck in a car with no window net.”

“We were cruising there and I just wanted to get to the white to have it covered and then the caution came out off of four. I thought it was like any other race. That rule was never kind of relayed to us. I already took my window net down and everything. My left arm is worn out from trying to get that damn thing back up. I got it rigged up enough to where it halfway stayed. I appreciate NASCAR for not making us come down pit road to fix it and letting me get it clipped back again to where we could stay out there. This Mustang was a rocketship. I am really glad we ended up winning that after that last caution. I am so proud of everybody. Tonight will be fun.”

Track position “was huge,” he added. “I felt like I was good on restarts, it just felt like the bottom launched better. It was a lot about the push and luckily the last restart Austin (Cindric) gave me a great push, almost too good of a push because he kind of had me jacked sideways. I missed the corner but was able to get up in front of the 11. The push was huge. Control of the lane was big, but a good push definitely helps out.

“I feel like some guys had trouble tonight but I felt like our car was probably the fastest all night, honestly. The 18 and 5 both looked good but I felt like we were right up there with them. We kind of came here with a little bit of a new mindset on things to try and how to do things and it is nice to know that worked and our car was really fast, so hopefully we can build on this.”

Results: NASCAR All-Star Race, May 22, 2022, Texas Motor Speedway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, Status, Tms Led, Laps Led
1) 
2, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Ford, 140, Running, 1, 84
2) 16, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 140, Running, , 
3) 12, Austin Cindric #, No. 2 Keystone Light Ford, 140, Running, 1, 7
4) 9, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 140, Running, , 
5) 23, Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, 140, Running, , 
6) 20, Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 140, Running, , 
7) 10, AJ Allmendinger (i), No. 16 Andy’s Frozen Custard Chevrolet, 140, Running, , 
8) 22, Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 140, Running, , 
9) 18, Brad Keselowski, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford, 140, Running, , 
10) 14, Christopher Bell, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, 140, Running, , 
11) 3, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 140, Running, 1, 2
12) 8, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield #BuschBacon Ford, 140, Running, , 
13) 5, Kurt Busch, No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota, 140, Running, , 
14) 7, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 140, Running, , 
15) 19, Michael McDowell, No. 34 WISE-EV Ford, 140, Running, , 
16) 17, Bubba Wallace, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Dark Berry Toyota, 140, Running, , 
17) 15, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 #BuschBacon Ford, 140, Running, , 
18) 11, Chase Briscoe, No. 14 Magical Vacation Planner Ford, 140, Running, , 
19) 21, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger/Viva Towels Chevrolet, 139, Running, , 
20) 24, Erik Jones, No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, 103, Accident, , 
21) 1, Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, 47, Accident, 1, 47
22) 6, Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, 47, Accident, , 
23) 13, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 47, Accident, , 
24) 4, Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 36, Accident, , 
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series(#) Rookie

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 2 Mins, 47 Secs.
Race Length: 140 Laps, 210. Miles
Average Speed: 102.62 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.266 Seconds

Comments: Ryan Blaney has won the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, his first career victory in the special non-points NASCAR Cup Series event.

Prior to the start, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty: No. 48 (unapproved adjustments). 

Cautions: 8 for 31 laps;
Laps: 25-25 (Stage 1 Conclusion [None]);
37-43 (No. 5 Incident Turn 4 [23]);
49-52 (No. 1, 9, 18 Incident Frontstretch [Red Flag: 00:14:16] [None]);
54-54 (Stage 2 Conclusion [None]);
76-80 (No. 20 Incident Turn 4 [47]);
82-82 (Stage 3 Conclusion [47]);
106-111 (No. 43 Incident Turn 4 [23]);
133-138 (No. 47 Incident Backstretch [None]).

Lead Changes: 3 among 4 drivers;
K. Busch 1-47;
A. Cindric # 48-54;
W. Byron 55-56;
R. Blaney 57-140.

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2022, Issue 5, Posted 11:55 PM, 05.22.2022