CONCORD, N.C. -- After storming from fifth place to the lead when teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch tangled on Lap 93 of 100, Kurt Busch survived two late cautions and held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the Sprint All-Star Race for the first ...
CONCORD, N.C. -- After storming from fifth place to the lead when teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch tangled on Lap 93 of 100, Kurt Busch survived two late cautions and held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the Sprint All-Star Race for the first time.
Busch's win made the evening extra special for team owner Roger Penske, whose IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power finished 1-2 in pole qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day.
Most of the action in the Saturday night extravaganza was packed into the final 10-lap segment, in which only green flag laps counted toward the total.
Joey Logano ran third, followed by Hamlin and Tony Stewart. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Bobby Labonte completed the top 10 in the non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup race that paid $1,028,309 to the winner.
Kurt Busch was well on his way to victory after completing Lap 98 of 100, but Kyle Busch bounced off the wall at the end of the tri-oval and clipped Kasey Kahne's Ford to cause the fifth caution of the night.
On the restart with two laps to go, Kurt Busch picked the outside lane and took the green flag with Jimmie Johnson beside him, followed by Logano and Hamlin. Busch pulled away again, but before the cars got back to the finish line, Johnson spun across the infield grass to put the race under yellow for the sixth time.
Busch then put the race away in the final two-lap dash.
"Way to go boys!" Busch exulted on the radio after taking the checkered flag. "A million cool one -- whoo!"
Minutes later, he savored the win in victory lane.
"Man, this car was a rocket ship at the end," said Busch, who had scraped the wall in the third segment of the race. "This is huge. This is one of the big marquee events. We were able to dodge the wrecks and, ultimately, we had the fastest car when it counted."
Hamlin and Kyle Busch were battling on Lap 93, with Busch getting a strong run to the outside of the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin moved up the track in front of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, and Busch hit the outside wall after running out of room.
After a blown tire sent Kyle Busch into the wall and then into Kahne, he drove to the garage, telling his crew on the radio that they needed to keep him away from Hamlin. After the race, Hamlin, Busch and team owner Joe Gibbs were closeted in the No. 11 transporter, according to a Twitter post from SceneDaily.com's Bob Pockrass.
After a 10-minute break between the third and final segments -- during which crews could work on the cars but were not allowed to change tires -- Johnson led the field back on the track and then to the pits for mandatory four-tire pit stops.
Hamlin was first off pit road, followed by Kyle Busch and Johnson. Mark Martin, Logano and Jamie McMurray followed in the next three positions when the field took the green flag for the final 10-lap shootout.
A wreck in the first corner, however, damaged eight cars and eliminated Martin, McMurray, David Reutimann, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards.
Truex and Biffle transferred into the main event by claiming the top two spots, respectively, in Saturday evening's Sprint Showdown. On Lap 33 of 40, Truex took the lead from Biffle, who had stayed out on old tires (as did David Ragan), when the rest of the field stopped for fresh rubber on Lap 18 -- two laps short of the end of the first segment.
Nevertheless, Biffle was able to hold off third-place finisher Jeff Burton for the second transfer position. Edwards, who finished 10th in the Showdown, completed the 21-driver field as the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote.
Juan Pablo Montoya had one of the fastest cars in the Showdown, but his progress through the field was halted abruptly when he turned across the nose of Regan Smith's Chevrolet and crashed into the outside wall as the cars entered Turn 1 on Lap 17.