CONCORD, NC – Jimmie Johnson didn’t have the best car Saturday night, but he had the winning one.
Starting the race in twentieth after a mistake in Friday’s wide-open qualifying session, Johnson made his way up through the 22-car field to challenge for the win in the final segment and eventually claim his second-consective victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
“It was a hinderance in qualifying yesterday,” Johnson said.
Saturday night didn’t start well for Johnson as he only mustered a fifteenth-place finish in the first segment of the All-Star action.
“I was really fearful I wouldn’t have a shot at a front-row start or a second row start. I thought the winner would come from one of those two rows.”
The opening four of five segments were dominated by Kurt and Kyle Busch, with each of them winning half of the segments.
That put the brothers in position to enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop in front of the pack with Kurt leading the charge.
Despite the advantage, neither driver’s crew were able to drop the jack first on the final set of stops and restarted in the back-half of the top-five.
Leading the field off pit road was non other than defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Kasey Kahne with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson, close in tow.
Kahne pulled to a slight advantage over Johnson at the drop of the green flag for the fifth and final segment, but much like the race off pit road, the No.48 never fell far behind Kahne’s Chevrolet.
The teammates appeared to make contact exiting the fourth turn, slowing Kahne momentum and giving Johnson a slight edge at the start/finish line.
As the two barreled off into turn-one at nearly 200 mph, Johnson was able to pull ahead of Kahne who also had to contend with the third-place car of Joey Logano.
“I had a good restart,” Logano said after the race. “[I] pushed [Kahne] out there and then [Johnson] was fast.
“The only shot I had is to get a caution and get up against him, but that was my only shot.”
Leading all ten laps in the final segment, Johnson left Logano and Kahne to merely battle for second as he drove off for yet another victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s incredible,” Johnson said about winning another race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Especially the way we had to go about it tonight.”
Johnson continued to leave his mark on NASCAR history as he broke a tie with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon by winning his fourth All-Star race the first of which came back in 2003.
“Haters are going to hate. That’s fine,” Johnson said. “I’m walking out of here with a cool trophy and a big check.”
Johnson is now the all-time wins leader in NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race history and became the first driver to win back-to-back All-Star events since Davey Allison accomplished that mark in 1991 and 1992.
“That’s crazy,” Johnson said about surpassing Earnhardt and Gordon on the All-Star wins list. “To beat Jeff (Gordon) and (Dale) Earnhardt, guys I’ve looked up to my whole life,…this means the world to me.”
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Unofficial Results:
- Jimmie Johnson
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Busch
- Kasey Kahne
- Kurt Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jamie McMurray
- Matt Kenseth
- Carl Edwards
- Kevin Harvick
- Jeff Gordon
- Ryan Newman
- Tony Stewart
- Greg Biffle
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Marcos Ambrose
- Clint Bowyer
- David Ragan
- Danica Patrick
- Mark Martin
- Brad Keselowski