Originally written for CLNS Radio.
Jamie McMurray ran away from the field during the final segment to win the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
McMurray led a race-high 31 laps on his way to the $1 million victory, but he had to hold off tough challenges from Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick in the closing laps.
On the final restart, he ran side-by-side with Edwards before finally taking the lead with seven laps to go. He said they raced hard with the perfect attitude.
“I thought heck with it, it’s for a million bucks,” McMurray said. “If we wreck it’s not that big of a deal.”
McMurray said they’ve had good cars all season, but have had some bad luck. He said this race makes all of those missed opportunities a little bit better.
“This is one of those races that makes up for a lot of bad times,” McMurray said.
Edwards started on the pole, and he led the first 10 laps. Kyle Busch took over on lap 10, and he ran away from the field to win the first segment.
Under the caution, Denny Hamlin stayed out to take the lead while the rest of the field pitted.
Hamlin jumped out to the lead, and used the clean air to run away from the field.
He led until the caution came out after Busch made contact with Clint Bowyer, sending Busch spinning into Turn 3. After contact with the wall, he came back down the track and collected Joey Logano.
When the race restarted, Hamlin spun the tires, handing the lead over to Edwards.
The race was only green for a half-lap, when Brian Vickers made contact with AJ Allmendinger, who went sliding into the inside wall.
Edwards led the field back to the green flag on lap 34, but Kasey Kahne quickly got around him on lap 36 to take the lead. Kahne pulled away from Edwards to lead at the end of the second segment.
McMurray stayed out under the caution to take the lead for the first time, and he led the field to the green flag to begin segment 3.
McMurray pulled away from the field, but Kahne quickly chased him down. Kahne took the lead just six laps into the run, and he led until the end of the third segment.
After the third segment, McMurray only took two tires during pit stops. He led the field back to the green flag at the beginning of the fourth segment.
Heading into Turn 3, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. and Greg Biffle got together to bring out the caution. Gordon’s car erupted in flames, but the fire quickly put itself out before he came down pit road.
McMurray led the field back to the green flag on lap 68, and he pulled away from the rest of the field. Kevin Harvick was able to run him down and take the lead on lap 76, and he led at the end of the fourth segment.
Following the fourth segment, the running order was reset based upon everyone’s average finish among the four segments. That put Harvick and McMurray as the first two cars, and they led everyone down pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop.
Edwards put his first pit stall to good use by winning the race off pit road. That put him in the lead when the final 10-lap segment began.
Edwards took the green flag, but he was unable to get away from McMurray for the lead. They raced side-by-side for three laps, but McMurray was able to take the lead.
He pulled away from the rest of the field while Harvick and Edwards battled hard for second, and Harvick was never able to close in on McMurray to steal the win.
Here are the unofficial results:
1. Jamie McMurray
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Carl Edwards
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Clint Bowyer
8. Brian Vickers
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Kurt Busch
12. Tony Stewart
13. David Ragan
14. Kasey Kahne
15. Josh Wise
16. Ryan Newman
17. Jeff Gordon
18. Martin Truex Jr.
19. Greg Biffle
20. AJ Allmendinger
21. Kyle Busch
22. Joey Logano
The stars of the Sprint Cup Series stay in Charlotte for another week. NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600, can be seen next Sunday at 6:00 p.m. EST, only on FOX.
|Photo courtesy Jonathan Moore/Getty Images|