Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jimmie Johnson Wins the Sprint All-Star Race

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, becoming the first driver to win it four times in his career.

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Johnson did not lead until the final segment, but he only needed to lead 10 laps to win the All-Star Race.  To win, Johnson had to beat his teammate Kasey Kahne, who had a strong car over the fourth and fifth segments.  Kahne fought with Johnson on the final restart, but he was no match for Johnson, who pulled away over the final eight laps to take the win.

With his win, Johnson became the only driver to win four career All-Star Races.  Johnson's other All-Star Race wins were in 2003, 2006, and 2012.  The win broke a three-way tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, who were the only other drivers to win three All-Star Races.

"To beat Jeff and Earnhardt, two guys who I looked up to my whole life, and two massive icons of this sport, this means the world to me," Johnson told FOX Sports.  "I didn't think we had a shot to win tonight, starting 20th, but we had a great racecar and worked our way through there to get the job done."

Right after the green flag fell, it seemed as though they might not be able to get the race in on Saturday night.  The caution came out for rain just eight laps into the race, and the red flag eventually came out. The red flag lasted 41 minutes, but the race eventually got back underway.  

Kurt Busch won the first segment, and that meant that he was in the running for an extra $1 million.  If the same driver won all five segments of the race, Charlotte Motor Speedway president Bruton Smith promised to award that driver an extra $1 million to go with the $1 million that the driver gets for winning the race.  Kurt fell back during the second segment, and his brother Kyle Busch won that segment.

During the caution between Segments 2 and 3, everyone pitted except Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and Mark Martin.  Bowyer was able to keep the lead for a few laps, but Kyle Busch eventually got back around him to take the lead, and he won the segment again.  Kurt Busch won his second segment of the night when he won Segment 4.

Before Segment 5, the field would be re-ordered by average finishing position during the four segments, and Kurt Busch was the leader when he brought the field down pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stops.  Kahne won the race off pit road, and he was followed by Johnson.

When the race restarted for the final 10-lap segment, Kahne and Johnson raced side-by-side for two laps, but Johnson was able to get the position and set sail to win his fourth All-Star Race. 

Here are the unofficial results:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Joey Logano
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Kurt Busch
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Carl Edwards
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Jeff Gordon
13. Ryan Newman
14. Tony Stewart
15. Greg Biffle
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17. Marcos Ambrose
18. Clint Bowyer
19. David Ragan
20. Danica Patrick
21. Mark Martin
22. Brad Keselowski

Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway to race in the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600.  The Coke 600 will be next Sunday at 5:30 p.m., only on FOX.

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