By Bob Moore, The Sports Xchange
12:17 AM EDT, May 19, 2013
CONCORD, N.C. -- For most of the night, Jimmie Johnson had to watch brothers Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch steal the spotlight.
But when it came time to earn the $1 million prize for winning the race, it was Johnson who was at his best as he captured his second straight Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and a record fourth overall. No other driver has won more than three.
Kasey Kahne and Johnson won the race off pit road following a mandatory pit stop after the fourth segment followed by Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch. The elder Busch brother won the fourth segment but a poor pit stop dropped him to fifth place for the final restart.
Johnson and Kahne battled hard for the lead on the restart, with Johnson winning the duel. Johnson led the rest of the way to earn the million dollars that goes to the winner of the special event.
Logano pushed his way by Kahne to finish second. Kyle Busch ended up third followed by Kahne and Kurt Busch.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.
Kurt Busch made it an all Busch-affair by winning the fourth segment to make it two wins apiece for Kurt and Kyle going into the deciding 10-lap shootout.
Kahne and Kevin Harvick were 1-2 at the start of the fourth segment after deciding not to pit. The two ran side-by-side for almost two laps before Kahne took the lead.
Behind them, things got really interesting as drivers started bouncing off each other and making wild moves including Ryan Newman going by three cars on the outside and then diving low and hitting Kyle Busch but causing minimal damage to both cars.
Kurt Busch had moved into second place when the yellow flag was waved for debris. On the restart, Kurt Busch and Kahne raced side-by-side for two laps before Kurt took the lead and led the rest of the way in the fourth segment. Kahne edged Johnson for second.
Kyle Busch made sure that no one would win the $1 million dollar bonus that CMS owner Bruton Smith offered if any driver won all five segments of the special event by winning the second segment after Kurt won the first segment.
Kyle dominated the third segment while Kurt held off Johnson in the battle for second place.
Pole-sitter Edwards decided not to pit after the second segment and was the leader on the restart. But Kyle quickly shot by Edwards and was never challenged as he led all 20 laps of the third segment.
During the 41-minute rain delay that brought the first segment to a stop after just 13 laps, Clint Bowyer said the all-star race needed “a little extra excitement.” And he was the one who provided it by diving low on the second lap of the second segment to make it a three-wide battle for the lead with Kurt Busch in the middle and Kyle up high. Bowyer grabbed the lead with Kyle sliding into second place.
Three laps later, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall and bounced into Mark Martin, who spun sideways through the tri-oval to bring out the second yellow flag of the event.
On the restart with 11 laps remaining in the second segment, Kyle Busch roared into the lead and led the rest of the way.
Kurt Busch made it look easy in the first segment by leading all 20 laps.
Jamie McMurray started second in both segments of the Sprint Showdown, but he quickly grabbed the lead both times and led all 40 laps to secure a spot in the night's main event, the 29th all-star race.
Stenhouse Jr. finished second, 1.5 seconds behind McMurray, to also earn a starting spot in the main event in his rookie Sprint Cup season.
Finishing third, fourth and fifth and out of the money were Jeff Burton, Paul Menard and Martin Truex Jr.
Casey Mears decided to gamble and not pit after the first 20-lap segment. But things didn’t work out as well as he had hoped as he ended up 10th.
McMurray said he felt that he and Truex, the pole-sitter, had “the two best cars, so I knew the start would be the key. And tonight we had two real good restarts. The car was really good out front. I feel this was the best car I’ve had here.”
McMurray won his first Cup race at CMS in 2002.
Danica Patrick earned the 22nd and final starting spot in the all-star race by winning the fan vote.
“This is quite an honor,” Patrick said. “First and foremost, I’ve got to thank all the fans that voted for me. I am very fortunate to have so many great fans. I will never forget that. Now I need to go out and show my thanks to all the people that voted for me.”
Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski saw his hopes of winning the all-star race quickly fade away when his transmission broke just four laps into the scheduled 90-lap event, ending his night prematurely.
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