Ryan Blaney sprinted away from Denny Hamlin in overtime to win NASCAR’s All-Star Race Sunday night, earning the $1 million payout at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
While coming to the line for the apparent victory in a 21-lap green-flag run, Blaney saw the caution fly for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s smack against the wall off Turn 2 — over half a lap behind Blaney — as his No. 12 Ford was less than 200 feet from the checkered flag.
That forced NASCAR overtime — a two-lap shootout — and Blaney pulled away with help from teammate Austin Cindric, who restarted behind him in third, but not before overcoming a window-net problem.
The 28-year-old Ohio native dropped his net thinking he had won the race, then struggled to replace it before the overtime session.
“It was about to be real bad for us,” Blaney said afterward. “I thought the race was over — everyone thought the race was over. I already had the window net down. I want to thank NASCAR for letting us fix it and not come down to pit road. That was really tough.”
Blaney recorded his first career win in the race and became the event’s 26th different winner.
Hamlin finished second followed by Cindric, Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez.
The 2015 race winner, Hamlin restarted eighth as the first driver who decided to take on two tires for the final run after a caution with 28 laps remaining.
Hamlin said Blaney should have been black-flagged, citing the NASCAR rulebook that says “all window net assembly fasteners must be properly tightened and remain tight during an Event.”
Anything other than that forces a driver to pit road.
“They make up rules. They answer to themselves. That’s what they do,” Hamlin said over his radio.
In the first stage, polesitter Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota led all 25 circuits around the high-banked, 1.5-mile superspeedway to beat Blaney by just under a second to win the first segment.
But on Stage 2’s Lap 48, Busch cut down a right rear tire and dropped to the bottom of the frontstretch.
As Busch slowed, his Camry was run over at full speed by Ross Chastain’s No. 1, which slightly became airborne. Chase Elliott also had his car totaled after being clipped by Chastain’s.
“It felt like the driver of the 1 car chose the wrong lane to go (to),” Chastain said after his wreck with Busch, who led the first 47 laps.
Cindric won Stage 2’s two-lap shootout, but Blaney won a similar distance in an overtime dash to be the first to the checkers in Stage 3.