If you were one of those people begging for some sort of drama (me!) before the checkers flew in Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star race, well… you got it!
I’m just not sure any of us were expecting that.
“Where NASCAR really got away with one was, we nearly crashed off (Turn) 2,” said Denny Hamlin, who finished second (twice) to Ryan Blaney. “When I send him head-first into traffic, and the window net’s down, I don’t know … then they got a lawsuit on their hands.”
Well then, Denny. Please, by all means, don’t hold back!
“All I ask is that we know what the rules are, we play by them,” he continued. “He should’ve won the race. He was 100 yards from winning the race. But many cars have not won races because of a green-white-checkered, or a mistake on a restart, or things that happen at the end. Those things happen.”
Safe. Those things happen… but Denny, come on!
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All right. Let’s dive in!
We’ll start here…who ya got: Denny or NASCAR?
Should the folks in the tower have thrown maybe the dumbest yellow flag in the history of the sport just seconds before Ryan Blaney crossed the line to win a million dollars?
No. Probably not. And hey, they even agree!
“Wish we wouldn’t have done that,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior VP. “But we did, and we’ll own that we probably prematurely put that caution out.”
OKAY. Good first step!
Should Ryan Blaney have been black-flagged?
The real question, though — at least the one Denny was asking as he was taking a blowtorch to the entire sport — was why Blaney wasn’t black-flagged for having his window net down.
The consensus throughout the garage, and in the Fox booth (hey, Clint!), was that it’s damn near impossible to get that sucker back up from inside the car.
So unless Blaney, who Wikipedia tells me is roughly 150 pounds, worked a miracle from inside his cockpit, he probably finished the race in an insecure race car.
And that’s a foul, said Denny!
“Coming to green, he was warming his tires on the back straightaway and you could see both hands on the wheel,” Miller responded. “The net was up … no way we could know if he got it 100% latched or not. At that point, there was no way we could be certain that he didn’t get it latched.”
Surely, though, NASCAR could’ve just let Blaney come down pit road to make sure, right? I mean, it’s an All-Star race! We’re not exactly at the Phoenix championship here.
“That would’ve gone out of character and been out of anything else that we have really ever done,” Miller said.
How dangerous was NASCAR window net decision?
That’s, um, not the greatest reasoning in the world. I’m thinking we should’ve workshopped that response a little bit.
Anyway, what’s done is done. So, what’s the verdict here?
My guess: Nobody could pass all night, NASCAR was going to be trigger-happy with a late caution, they immediately regretted it when they did it and decided to roll the dice that Blaney would win and the net would stay up for the final two lapse rather than black-flag him and deal with major blowback.
After all, they can deal with an angry Denny Hamlin. What they don’t want is an angry fanbase.
In regards to the whole lawsuit thing … well, that was probably a little dramatic, but, frankly, did ya’ll see that wreck earlier in the race? Imagine if Chase Elliott didn’t have a window net when he barreled into the wall.
Fortunately for everyone, it’ll forever just be a hypothetical.
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OK, let’s give Young Ryan Blaney his proper due on the way out.
For starters… he put Wrangler back in Victory Lane. Don’t know if you know this, but someone named Earnhardt once made that famous.
Blaney had the best car all night (minus the better cars that all wrecked before him, of course) and pretty much cruised to the win and the million bucks.
Take away the nonsense yellow at the end, though, and are we sure we need to stick around at Texas for future All-Star events?
Dale Jr. …thoughts?
“Stage 1 was about as fun as a rice cake,” Junior tweeted during the race.
OKAY. Kyle Larson, you’re up!
“Can’t pass at all,” said the defending race-winner after he cut a tire early in the show.
Denny, you haven’t been shy today. Care to how?
“It’s just frustrating because we just have no consistency in our officiating.”
Ah, forget it. Denny’s still mad about the no-call!
From where I sit … yeah, it’s probably (definitely) run its course. Time to start moving this race around like every other sport does.
And not that anyone listens, but I’d probably start at North Wilkesboro next year. Just saying.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Denny Hamlin rips NASCAR for no-call, VP admits error, Blaney is rich