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Motorsport

Ryan Blaney wins contentious NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas

Initially, Blaney took the checkered flag ahead of Denny Hamlin but a caution was displayed on the final lap for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. getting into the backstretch wall.

Under normal rules, Blaney would have been declared the winner but under special rules for Sunday night’s race, the winner had to take the victory under a green flag.

That sent the final 50-lap segment at Texas Motor Speedway into a two-lap overtime but with a problem – Blaney, thinking he had won, had already let down the window net on the driver’s side of his No. 12 Ford.

Blaney jury-rigged the netting as best he could on the restart and then held off Hamlin by 0.266 seconds to officially claim the All-Star victory.

The situation did not sit well with some as NASCAR rules specifically require window netting fasteners to be “properly tightened and remain tight during an event.”

The win is not an official one in the Cup Series, but Blaney has been one of the top-performing drivers this season despite lacking a victory.

“It was looking real bad for us. I thought the race was over and I let the window net down. I do want to thank NASCAR for letting kind of fix it and not make us come down pit road,” Blaney said. “Yeah, that was really tough.

“Then I had to kind of do it all over again after getting that window net back up there. Great car. This No. 12 group did a great job. This is cool. I know it’s not a points-winning race but it’s going to be a lot of fun and the party’s going to be pretty big.”

Austin Cindric finished third, Joey Logano fourth and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Alex Bowman, A.J. Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell.

Stage 4

Thanks to his previous stage victory, Cindric started the final 50-lap segment on the pole with teammates Blaney (Stage 3 winner) in second and Logano (pit stop winner) third. When the stage went green, Suarez lined up fourth and Hamlin fifth.

Blaney quickly cleared Cindric for the lead on the restart.

On Lap 105, Erik Jones wrecked off Turn 4 and slid into the frontstretch grass to bring out the seventh caution of the race.

Several lead-lap cars pit but the top four stayed out with Blaney still in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 112. He was followed by Cindric, Logano and Suarez. Hamlin lined up eighth, the first car that pit.

With 17 laps remaining, Hamlin – who took two new tires on his stop – had moved into third behind Blaney and Cindric.

With 12 laps to go, Hamlin got around Cindric to move into the second position, 2 seconds behind Blaney.

Blaney’s margin grew to nearly 3 seconds with five laps remaining in the race.

On the final scheduled lap, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. slid up the track and into the wall to trigger a caution. However, under All-Star rules, the winner must take the win under green-flag conditions.

The race was sent into a two-lap overtime with Blaney out front followed by Hamlin and Cindric.

Stage 3

Blaney held off Suarez by 0.349 seconds to claim the Stage 3 win and earned a starting spot in the first two rows for the final segment.

Logano was third, Michael McDowell was fourth and Cindric fifth.

During the break between Stages 2 and 3, every team had to complete a four-tire pit stop and William Byron was first off pit road but Logano’s No. 22 team had the fastest stop from yellow line to yellow line and won the $100,000 prize for the fastest stop.

On the restart on Lap 55, Byron was followed by Blaney and Suarez.

Blaney went to the inside of Byron on Lap 57 and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.

With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney maintained about a half-second lead over Bell with Byron in third.

On Lap 72, Stenhouse was forced to pit under green with a flat right-rear tire.

Bell, running second at the time, wrecked in Turn 4 on Lap 75 to bring out another caution. Several lead-lap cars pit with Suarez the first off pit road but Blaney stayed on the track and in the lead.

The stage went into a two-lap overtime with Blaney out front followed by Cindric and Logano.

Stage 2

Cindric held off his Penske teammate Blaney in a two-lap overtime to take the Stage 2 win and will earned the top starting spot in the final segment after Kyle Busch wrecked out of the race.

Byron was third, Suarez fourth and Bell fifth.

During the break between Stages 1 and 2, several lead-lap cars elected to pit with Kurt Busch first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 26, Kyle Busch remained out front and saw Larson moved up to second on the restart.

Bubba Wallace was forced to pit under green for a loose wheel and fell a lap down.

On Lap 36, Kyle Larson, while running second, wrecked hard off Turn 4 after suffering a flat right-front tire to bring out a caution. Wallace received the free pass and got back on the lead lap.

The race returned to green on Lap 44 with Kyle Busch out front followed by Ross Chastain and Byron.

Chastain led at the line on the restart but Kyle Busch quickly moved back into the lead as Cindric took second.

On Lap 48, Kyle Busch slowed dramatically off Turn 4 with an apparent flat tire and Chastain plowed into him from behind, then shot up the track and collected Chase Elliott as well.

Cindric inherited the lead as the race was immediately placed under a red flag to clean the track of debris. The stage restarted with a two-lap overtime and Cindric out front.

Stage 1

Kyle Busch led all 25 laps to take the Stage 1 win and earned the right to claim the No. 1 starting position for the final segment provided he finishes 15th or better in Stages 2 and 3.

Kyle Busch started on the pole and took early command of the race, running out to a nearly half-second lead over Blaney after 15 laps.

With five laps to go in the stage, Blaney has closed to under a half-second as Larson ran third.

Bowman had to start the race from the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to his car after Saturday’s qualifying.