Jimmie Johnson wasn’t up front at the end of any of the four 20-lap segments of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he was up front at the end of the 10-lap segment that ended the 90-lap event to claim his fourth All-Star win, making him the all-time winningest driver of the Sprint All-Star Race.
“That’s amazing,” Johnson said. “To be there with my heroes and the icons of the sport.”
Joey Logano finished second, Kyle Busch was third, Kasey Kahne fourth, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.
“I’m pleased with the way the guys made this car better,” Logano said, seemingly with mixed feelings. “It’s okay if you’re racing for points, but when you’re racing for a million bucks and second doesn’t matter, it sucks.”
The brothers Busch were the only two 20-lap segment wins, with Kurt Busch winning segments one and four, and Kyle Busch claiming wins in the two segments in between — two and three. With their field-leading average finishes at the conclusion of the first four segments, the Busch brothers were in the top-two spots prior to the mandatory four-tire pit stop prior to the final 10 laps.
Hendrick Motorsports was tops on pit road, though, as HMS drivers Kahne and Johnson got off pit road first and second to restart the final segment on the front row. Kyle Busch restarted third, and Kurt Busch lost and additional spot on pit road to Logano and restarted fifth.
“I really felt like a winner to be on the front row (to start the final segment),” Johnson said. “That last pit stop set everything up.”
After a couple of laps of side-by-side racing to start the final 10 laps, Johnson cleared Kahne and set sail en route to the win. Kahne then also lost second to Logano. He was able to hold on to the third spot for a few laps before losing third to Kyle Busch with two laps to go.
Prior to the Sprint All-Star Race, the rest of the Sprint Cup Series regulars competed in the 40-lap, two segment preliminary Sprint Showdown to race for the final starting spots in the All-Star Race. Jamie McMurray was up front at the checkered flag after leading all 40 laps of the event to advance to the main event. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also advanced by finishing second in the Showdown. Danica Patrick was the third driver to advance from the Showdown to the Sprint All-Star race by virtue of the fan vote.
Martin Truex Jr. started the Sprint Showdown on the pole, but lost the lead to McMurray on the first lap. He ran second to McMurray for the rest of the first 20-lap segment, but lost positions on pit road between the segments by taking four tires while a few others took four. He was unable to race back up into the top-two and wound up finishing fifth.
Jeff Burton was the first finisher to be denied a spot in the All-Star race, finishing third in the Showdown. Paul Menard was fourth.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR