Under the lenses of 100,000 cameras or more Jamie McMurray walked away with the ultimate prize the million dollar payout that comes with winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first time in his career, also leading 31 laps including the final 10, another career first. McMurray locks himself into the Sprint All-Star Race for the following 10 years with his victory.
Carl Edwards won the battle off of pit road to solidify his starting position for the final 10 lap shoot-out Saturday Night. Edwards took the inside lane for the restart and battled to keep McMurray behind him, but once the #1 Bass Pro Shop Chevrolet cleared the #99 Fastenal Ford with 8 laps remaining, McMurray was off and running, hugging the white line, turning the track record time of 27.68 the fastest of the night.
McMurray didn’t hold back after passing Edwards, McMurray opened the margin enough so that he was able to hold off a hard charging Kevin Harvick, who is known as the closer, and crossed the finish line 0.696 seconds ahead of Harvick who was closing in and slowly gaining on McMurray.
“It was three or four of the hardest laps I’ve ever driven in my racing career,” said McMurray. “Keith (Rodden, crew chief for McMurray) did an unbelievable job, he was a huge secret in the garage (at Hendrick Motorsports as an engineer) and I’m so glad that I get the opportunity to work with him. We’ve had good cars all year long. We had some bad luck, but this is one of those races that makes up for a lot of bad times.”
Rodden is in his first year as a crew chief, that put McMurray in a position to win. McMurray didn’t take four tires after his pit stop on Lap 26, until the final pit stop before the 10 lap dash to the cash, the pit crew gave him four fresh tires and got him out second to challenge Edwards for top position.
“Jamie just did a perfect job on the start, He ended up sweeping around the outside of me, it was a drag race,” said Edwards. “I had him cleared for a minute. If I would have pulled in front of him in Turn 1, if I would have gone high, I think we would have won that race, but I was just so reluctant to give up the bottom. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently but that’s racing. You’ve just got to make the best decision you can and move on.”
Matt Kenseth finish third, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fourth, Edwards finished fifth, and Jimmie Johnson a four time Sprint All-Star Race winner finished sixth.
The Sprint All-Star Race was action packed, mid-way through the first 20 lap segment, Kyle Busch passed pole winner Edwards for the lead and remained the leader until the first scheduled caution, but six laps into the second segment on Lap 26 , Busch tapped the bumper of a slower Clint Bowyer, as Bowyer blocked on the inside, Busch went down to the apron as Bowyer’s car wiggled and brushed the side as Busch’s car sending him up the track, Joey Logano slammed into the spinning #18 M&M’s Toyota, ending the million dollar race for both drivers.
After the restart on Lap 31, Greg Biffle got a run off of Turn 2 went high taking it three wide, bumping into Brian Vickers who came down onto A.J. Allmendinger sending the #47 Freightliner/Miller Welders Chevrolet careening into the inside wall on the backstretch.
Kasey Kahne grabbed the lead on Lap 35, for the first time, and pulled away to win the second segment. Four cars stayed out between the segments and two more changed only two tires, leaving Kahne in eighth, but on Lap 47 Kahne passed McMurray, who had stayed out. Kahne gained the third segment with a margin of victory over Harvick by 1.411 seconds.
As the drivers took the green flag for the fourth 20 Lap segment, mechanical failure in Jeff Gordon’s car sent the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet into the outside wall in Turn 3, collecting Martin Truex Jr., driving the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet and Greg Biffle, driving the #16 3M Ford.
The fourth segment also had another casualty in Kahne, who had hit the wall twice, ending his strong run for the All-Star event.
Harvick then finished the first four segments with the best average, giving Harvick the advantage of entering pit road first for the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the final 10 lap. McMurray entered the pits second, after pit strategy gave him track positions by remaining on the track, followed by Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., and Edwards.
Edwards had the #1 pit stall and was able to use it to his advantage, by winning the race off pit road, but Edwards could not hold back the others when the green flag dropped in the end it was McMurray who took home the prize.