Once again Jimmie Johnson know how to take the big wins even when he has to come from behind!
At the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday evening, Jimmie Johnson came from behind to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race for a record fourth time. Taking the lead in the final segment, Johnson wasn’t to be denied as he took the checkered flag and the $1 million first-place prize.
Starting 20th after a substandard qualifying effort, Johnson worked his way through the field to become a contender in the second of the race’s five segments. Once among the leaders, Johnson displayed his championship form as he mixed it up with the likes of Kyle and Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano as he made his way to the front.
The race featured four 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap run. During the first segment, rain stopped the race for 41 minutes, but once the track was dried, the program rolled forward.
Preceding the final stanza, all cars had to change four tires and Johnson came in fourth and went out second behind teammate Kahne.
The teammates battled at the outset of the run with Johnson prevailing and pulling away to a commanding lead and the eventual win.
“I didn’t think we had a shot at winning tonight after starting 20th, but we had a great racecar,” Johnson commented. “I don’t know how we keep doing it, but I am pretty proud of this race team.
“That last pit stop made the difference. I felt like the winner would be on the front or second row and when I came out second, I knew we had a great shot at it. The inside lane seemed to prevail at times, and when Kasey (Kahne) took the top, I thought I had a chance. I went flat through the first two turns, and I was finally able to get him off me. We had an awesome car and I was able to pass cars.”
Commenting about becoming the first four-time winner, Johnson said, “To beat Jeff (Gordon) and Dale (Earnhardt), two guys I looked up to my whole life, means the world to me.”
Logano pushed past Kahne with five to go to gain second place but he couldn’t get near the fleet leader.
“I had a good restart and pushed Kahne out there, but Johnson was fast,” Logano said. “My only shot would have been if there was a caution. Second is like awesome but it sucks, too. We didn’t have a winning car, but if there had been a caution, I might have been able to give him a run for his money.”
Kyle Busch had one of the dominant cars but after mixing it up on restarts, his car incurred minor damage sufficient to derail his quest for victory.
“We got beat around on restarts by other cars, but that is to be expected,” the youngest Busch said. “The best car here fails to win again with me behind the wheel.”
Kahne finished fourth ahead of Kurt Busch.
Kahne said once he lost the clean air, he couldn’t catch up with Johnson. Also, he said his car had gotten beat-up earlier, which affected him at the end.
Said the eldest Busch, “Winning a couple segments in the All-Star race is nothing to be disappointed with, but you always want more. When you lose to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, those guys were perfect again. We were one click slow on a pit stop and an adjustment. I thought I could race my way back, but we weren’t perfect tonight.”
The Busch brothers each won two segments but that wasn’t enough with the money on the line.
Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-10 finishers in the 135-mile non-points race in Charlotte.
McMurray won the preliminary 40-lap Sprint Showdown, which advanced him into the main event along with runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Danica Patrick received the most fan ballots and was added to the All-Star field after finishing ninth in the Showdown. In the All-Star standings, she ended up 20th in the 22-car field.
Stenhouse finished 16th in the feature event.