The All-Star Open did not count toward the NASCAR championship standings, but it could have an effect on the remaining races. Michael McDowell has issued a warning to Ty Gibbs after contact on the track.
The incident occurred on a restart after Noah Gragson clipped the inside wall and kicked off a four-car wreck. The drivers lined up and took the green flag, but the caution came back out with 44 laps remaining.
Gibbs tried to move to the inside of McDowell, but contact between their cars pushed the No. 34 Ford Mustang into the side of Justin Haley’s No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro. The two drivers hit the wall while Gibbs went on and raced his way into the All-Star Race with a second-place finish.
“Well, it’s short track racing to try to get into the All-Star Race, so somebody has got to leave with hurt feelings,” McDowell told FOX Sports after the race. “I guess it’s me. I’ve got a great restart there, kind of worked the outside, got a couple guys, and was able to get down. And Ty just plowed into me, just knocked me into the 31 and spun us both out, and got a lot of damage from that.
“We ended up on the short side of it. It sucks. Felt like we had a pretty fast Fr8 Auctions Ford Mustang, but at the same time all that stuff comes around, man. You get away with it a few times, but it comes around, and I don’t have a budget for the fine, otherwise, I would not be standing here, I’d be standing down there.”
McDowell Partially Disrupted Gibbs’ Race
While the wreck led to Haley heading to the garage early, McDowell was able to continue in the race after heading to pit road for some repairs. He used the opportunity to exact a partial form of revenge.
McDowell made his move with 23 laps remaining in the All-Star Open. He was well off the pace as Gibbs, Josh Berry, and Aric Almirola chased him down. McDowell waited until Gibbs was next to him before making contact multiple times and pushing the No. 54 Toyota Camry toward the wall.
This contact did not lead to significant damage for Gibbs and Joe Gibbs Racing. Instead, it just slowed the No. 54 enough so that Berry could make his move to the front of the pack. The substitute driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet went on to win the All-Star Open and punch his ticket to the All-Star Race.
“I can understand the 34’s frustration,” Gibbs said after the race, per Toyota Racing. “At Martinsville, we were running 18th and they clobbered us and about wrecked us, so I think it’s honestly fair game. We are racing to make it in the All-Star Race, so I understand his frustration, but we got in, and that is all that matters.”
Another Driver Had a Different Perspective
The contact between Gibbs and McDowell led to some “hurt feelings” and a warning for the future. It also set up potential payback from the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang.
What the incident didn’t do is upset the other driver involved. Justin Haley had a very different perspective of the wreck that ended his day and sent him home from the historic short track in North Carolina.
Haley had every reason to be upset after hitting the wall. He missed out on an opportunity to reach the All-Star Race and compete for $1 million. However, he just had comments about the amount of entertainment.
“It’s just short track racing,” Haley said after exiting the infield care center, per FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass. “I’m not mad. We’re all going for two spots out of 16 cars. I mean, it is what it is. I’m just here to have fun, and it was d*** fun, I’ll tell you that.”