Johnson continues streak, wins All-Star race at Charlotte

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Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent

Five-time now a three-time

A week after claiming the 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports and two days removed from taking victory in the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team won the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. It was Johnson's third All-Star win and car owner Rick Hendrick's seventh.

"This race car was so amazing," Johnson said.

Brad Keselowski finished second in the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, and Matt Kenseth drove the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a third-place finish.

We worked on the car and got it right.

Jimmie Johnson

The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch started the race on the pole and led the first 15 laps before being passed by Johnson for the lead on lap 16 of the first 20- lap segment. Johnson then remained up front until the yellow flag waved to signal the end of the first of four 20-lap segments.

For the next three 20 lap segments, Johnson rode around in the back, knowing that as long as he stayed on the lead lap he would be moved to the front to head down pit road first prior to the final 10-lap sprint to the finish.

"We were just smart from there," Johnson said. "We worked on the car and got it right."

Several cars stayed on the race track to start the second segment up front, including Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Marcos Ambrose in the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Kenseth got by Ambrose for second on lap 32 (lap 12 of the second segment). Then Dale Earnhardt Jr., who claimed a spot in the All-Star Race by winning the preliminary Sprint Showdown earlier in the evening in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, passed him for third.

Kenseth then set his sights on the No. 11 car and first position, taking the top spot from Hamlin with three laps to go in the second segment. Kenseth went on to win the second segment and join Johnson on the leisure ride of self-preservation in the back for the final two 20-lap segments.

Nine cars stayed out during the caution between segments two and three, Keselowski among them. In the final laps of the third segment, Kasey Kahne fought Keselowski hard in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, but was unable to get by. Keselowski won segment three to hang out in the back with Johnson and Kenseth for the final 20 lapper. {{1403599|left|s3||

Kurt Busch in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet and Earnhardt took command up front to start segment four. Earnhardt took the lead on lap 63, three laps into the segment, and remained up front to win the segment. For a time, he was joined by his fellow Showdown transfer, A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, but Ambrose took second on lap 76 (16 in the segment).

The yellow flag came out within the fourth segment when the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford of Greg Biffle lost an engine. The three previous segment winners riding in the back pitted for four tires, so that they wouldn't have to take time to have their cars serviced during the mandatory stop before the final segment.

During the yellow flag between the final 20-lap segment and the 10-lap race to the finish, Johnson, Kenseth and Keselowski were moved to the top-three spots in front of Earnhardt before the field headed down pit road for their mandatory pit stops. Like the front three, Earnhardt also just pulled into his pit stall for a stop-and-go. But as a result of not pitting during the caution in the fourth segment, he was on older tires for the final 10 than the front three drivers.

Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Johnson pulled away from the field on the final restart of the race. Keselowski got by Kenseth for second and maintained that spot the rest of the way.

"It's all about the restart," Keselowski said. "I thought I could do something with him (Johnson) the first couple of laps. It just wasn't meant to be."

Kyle Busch finished fourth in the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Earnhardt rounded out the top-five.

"Sometimes they (cars) are good on short runs and sometimes they are good on long runs," Earnhardt said. "This is all about going fast right out of the gate."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, featured, hendrick, johnson, kenseth, keselowski, vincent