Turn 2 Blog: So many things went wrong in such a short period of time

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideCircleTrack.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the NASCAR and pavement short track racing topics of the day.

There are so many places to start when critiquing the 2022 version of the NASCAR All-Star Race. But let’s start with the track. If there has to be an All-Star Race, is Texas Motor Speedway the right place for it?

Richard: First, as I said last week, I am not really a fan of All-Star events although, until this year at least, NASCAR’s version has been the best of the bunch. But I’m sorry, that race(or spectacle) was horrific. And I believe a major part of that has to do with the track.

Texas Motor Speedway just is not a good place for a race of any sort. And to make things worse, they have messed so much with the racing surface by applying whatever compound they have used that half the track is essentially unusable. The best way to fix it would most likely be with a bulldozer.

I understand why this race got moved to Fort Worth after NASCAR took one of the facility’s dates away to use somewhere else, but what happened there on Sunday did not help the sport or anyone involved in it with the exceptions of Ryan Blaney and Team Penske. Several drivers pointed out that passing was next to impossible and the wrecks were flat out dangerous.

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. went to all the trouble and expense to reconfigure Atlanta Motor Speedway but it seems as if this track would have been a better choice for such a renovation.

But to get back to the question at hand, no, Texas Motor Speedway is not the right place for this event. I would love to see it moved around, perhaps to places not already on the NASCAR schedule such as Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Five Flags Speedway, Hickory Motor Speedway or Slinger Speedway to name a few. Based on what I could see on Sunday, seating capacity is not an issue so why not just turn it into a Made-for TV special?

Michael: I feel in today’s environment, the All-Star Race is something that needs to be shelved. NASCAR and the teams have agreed to have short practice sessions before qualifying to save money. Sponsorship isn’t what it was and teams have been cutting costs wherever they can, including drivers’ salaries. So why have an extra race where teams are traveling halfway across the country?!?

Texas Motor Speedway needs to do some serious work. It was an okay track before the reconfiguration of turns 1 and 2. But since then, the racing hasn’t been good at all.

I’m with you. They should have done to Texas what they did to Atlanta. Something needs to be done.

Ross Chastain went for a wild ride after contact with the slowing car of Kyle Busch (Getty Images)

How worrisome are the recent tire issues?

Richard: If I were a driver or a crew chief, I would say the recent tire issues are very worrisome.

There have been some issues over the past few weeks with tires blowing out or otherwise affecting a race. And while many want to immediately point a finger at Goodyear when these things happen, it may or may not necessarily be their fault.

As we know, race teams are notorious for playing with air pressure or finding other ways to damage tires through the use of various setup tricks. These issues could very well be self-inflicted as teams try to find any advantage they can with this new car. And more, it could be that driving styles are playing a role as the pilots may not be adjusting to the Next Gen’s nuances.

Or, the problem could be with the car itself. Perhaps the loads in the turns are radically different from the previous car which could be placing greater stress on the tires. And don’t forget that this is a completely different tire in terms of its size and appearance which could be causing some of the issues.

But whatever the case, crashing such as the Kyle Larson wreck and the big one involving Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott were, at their heart, tire related issues. There can’t be an abundance of those types of crashes going forward.

So yes, the recent tire issues are very worrisome.

Michael: I’d like to know if the tire issues are car-related or setup-related. I think the only way to find out is do a tire test where the participating teams cannot veer off the recommended settings.

I do wonder if some of the problem comes from a lower profile tire. The sidewalls have to be under a bigger amount of pressure with a smaller area that can flex. I do think we’ll see a few tire issues in the 600 on Sunday.

How badly was the end of the All-Star Race handled?

Richard: A book could be written to answer this question.

First and foremost, the caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brushing the wall at the tail of the field on the last lap should not have been been thrown. This is the type of thing that will come up from time to time when the worlds of sport and entertainment collide. But before critics of NASCAR begin clearing their throats to claim that it is just this one sanctioning body who is responsible for bringing the aspect of entertainment into the sport, look no further than end of the 2021 Formula 1 season to prove that.

What was worse about the late yellow flag was that it was waved when leader Ryan Blaney was literally yards from the finish line. It couldn’t have been more obvious that this caution was brought out for the sake of the show. And I will admit, I’m not always against such things as long as there is consistency.

But just when it looked like things couldn’t get worse, Fox cameras showed Blaney desperately struggling to reattach his window net after he had unhooked it preparing to do his burnout in front of the fans. NASCAR then found itself in a self-inflicted no-win situation as far as their officiating call would be concerned.

The choices were to black flag Blaney and make him come to the pits to reattach the window net then send him to the tail of the field, to have him come to the pits for the window net to be reattached then allow him to have his position at he front of the field back, or to let him stay and and somehow improvise a solution.

In my view, they made the wrong choice. The improvised solution could have turned out badly. This race had already seen a wreck in which Elliott’s car had spun around and hit driver’s side first against the outside wall.

I know this won’t be popular but I believe the right call was to black flag him to have the window net reattached then send him to the tail. Letting him have his position back after a pit stop would be opening quite a can of worms. Yes, NASCAR made a bad call to throw the caution when they did but no one told Blaney to put his window net down. He did that on his own.

Anyway, that’s my take.

Ryan Blaney was about the only person who benefitted from the All-Star Race (Getty Images)

Michael: NASCAR handled every aspect of this incorrectly. There should have been no caution for such minimal contact when the race was a few hundred yards from being over.

The next thing they did wrong was allowing Blaney to race with a barely attached window net. Since this was an exhibition race, NASCAR should have allowed Blaney to fix the window net without penalty. NASCAR set the standard for overlooking the rules in the All-Star Race in 2001 when they allowed teams to go to backup cars after a poor decision to drop the green flag on a partially wet track. Allowing Blaney to fix the window net without penalty would have seemed small compared to what they did in ’01.

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