NASCAR reverses course on crucial playoff decision

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Ryan Blaney has been un-disqualified from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and all of his points have been reinstated.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney finished Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series round of 8 playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in sixth place, netting him 31 points in addition to the eight stage points he scored with finishes of sixth in stage one and eighth in stage two.

But that 39-point afternoon, which resulted in him sitting 17 points below the Championship 4 cut line with two races remaining in the round of 8, turned into a one-point afternoon when NASCAR disqualified him because the No. 12 Ford’s left front shock didn’t meet the overall specified length.

Blaney’s subsequent demotion to last place in stage one, stage two, and the race itself resulted in him falling from 17 points to 56 points below the cut line. Five other round of 8 drivers scored additional points due to moving up when Blaney was disqualified.

Three drivers — Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, and 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick — scored two additional points. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher each scored one.

But on Monday, NASCAR made the decision to reverse Ryan Blaney’s Las Vegas disqualification.

The decision was made because NASCAR found an error with the damper template they used for inspection, which had prompted them to disqualify Blaney and his No. 12 Ford in the first place.

As a result, the initial results — and all of Blaney’s points — have been restored, placing him 17 points below the cut line heading into this coming Sunday afternoon’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

All drivers who gained a spot due to Blaney’s disqualification in stage one, stage two, and the race itself have dropped back down a position as well.

The official results and playoff standings are effectively what they were before Blaney was disqualified.

On one hand, give credit to NASCAR for realizing their mistake, admitting it, and making the appropriate change. They could not have handled it better.

On another, there has been somewhat of a growing sense that NASCAR’s desire and willingness to crack down on rule breakers is going to lead to knee-jerk reactions against innocent drivers and teams, and while NASCAR ultimately righted their wrong here, this could have been disastrous.

What if this would have happened in the final race of the round of 8? What if Blaney was supposed to go to the Championship 4, then he wasn’t, then he was, and then the driver who thought he was going to replace Blaney in the Championship 4 now wasn’t?

It’s a tough thing to balance, because we all want the rules to be applied fairly to everybody. NASCAR made the right move here, all things considered.

But there has to be a bit of concern regarding how initial decisions are made in the future, given just how massive a Blaney disqualification would have been. It’s a good sign that they are indeed taking “internal steps to remedy this issue moving forward”.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans an instant $200 just for betting $5, still lists Blaney as a longshot to win this year’s title behind the other seven remaining championship contenders.

Odds and availability are subject to change, so lock in your $200 today!

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The Dixie Vodka 400 is the second of three races in the round of 8, and it is scheduled to take place this Sunday, October 22. NBC is set to broadcast the race live from Homestead-Miami Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!