The Frontstretch: Thinkin' Out Loud: Sprint All-Star Race Recap by Mike Neff -- Sunday May 19, 2013

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Thinkin' Out Loud: Sprint All-Star Race Recap

Mike Neff · Sunday May 19, 2013


Key MomentJimmie Johnson’s crew threw down a money stop before the final segment, gaining him multiple spots and providing him the track position needed to try and win the race.

Jimmie Johnson was at it again, capturing a record fourth All-Star Race trophy with ease during Saturday night’s final segment.

In a NutshellKurt and Kyle Busch led the four segments that don’t pay the big money while Jimmie Johnson led the last one. The new rule about average finish position determining the order of entry for the final pit stop made things very exciting as competitors actually raced the entire event.

Dramatic Moment – On the restart for the final segment, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne ran roughly two laps side-by-side, battling hard for the clean air that would determine the finish of the race. Once Johnson took the lead, though it was over.

What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler

Jimmie Johnson has won the All-Star race four times. That is more than anyone. He broke a tie with his car owner Jeff Gordon along with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. While his history is still being written, and it is hard to judge where he’ll finally wrap it up, there is no doubt that Johnson deserves to be in the conversation about the greatest of all-time. In a related note, there were quite a few boos coming from the stands when Johnson was celebrating on-track after the checkers. Rest assured he’s not the first or last uber successful driver to receive that treatment.

Racing on 1.5-mile tracks is not the most exciting of NASCAR events. While the folks at Charlotte try hard to add intrigue, the bottom line is fast cars on a cool track with tires that don’t fall off is not a recipe for excitement.

For those people in attendance at the race, for the second time in three or four years, a pre-race stunt went awry. The stunt driver was supposed to land on some old junk cars but landed on the pavement instead. Might be time to either hire new stunt drivers or buy more cars to land on. Never heard during the race or post-race how the driver was doing.

Danica Patrick won the Sprint Fan Vote. Be careful what you ask for… you just might get it. Fan votes have nothing to do with talent or justification. They are all about popularity. With Dale Earnhardt, Jr. having qualified for the race already, there was no doubt that Danica would win the vote. The rules were even changed to eliminate a driver having to be on the lead lap, at the end of the Sprint Showdown just in case. How did Danica do in the big race? She was the last car among those still running, although at least she stayed on the lead lap all night.

Bruton Smith offered an extra million dollars to the winner if they led all five segments. Is there a more sure bet than that one? No way someone is going to lead all five with the current car on this track.

The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune

The Busch brothers led the field for much of the All-Star Race before fading out of contention during the final segment.

Kurt Busch and upstart Furniture Row Racing had probably the best car on the track all night before a botched final pit stop. Busch fell back to fifth, a disappointing conclusion although he showed everyone the No. 78 car will be a threat during the 600.

Kyle Busch, once again, led a bunch of laps, probably had the best car on track during the middle of the event, but came up short when the checkered flag flew. Busch endured another week where he was a contender for a large portion of the race only to come up short (third).

2013 Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski made a whole lap and half in the All-Star Race before his rear end let him down. There is always testing involved at this event. Pretty sure the test on the No. 2 got a big unhappy face.

Mark Martin was running around the likes of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and it ended up biting him in the butt. Stenhouse bounced it off of the wall coming onto the front straight and bounced into Martin, sending the veteran spinning through the infield. While Martin soldiered on, initially he ended up out of the race after 87 laps completed.

Clint Bowyer was mixing it up at the front of the field and looked like he might be a car to deal with in the end. Unfortunately, he got shuffled out of the mix at the beginning of the third segment and was never heard from after that.

Greg Biffle was in the conversation early during the night. Some pit strategy mired him back in the field a little bit and he ended up bouncing his car hard off of the wall. His team put in a yeoman-like performance to keep him in the running, but the damage left him a mediocre 15th.

The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune

Jimmie Johnson was behind Brad Keselowski and a couple of other cars when the 2012 champ had his issues on lap 2. While it cost Johnson a couple of spots, he was still in the running and slowly made his way through the field. Clawing his way forward, slowly but surely earned him the fourth position coming onto pit lane for the final pit stop. His team ripped off an 11.8-second performance and got him out second, making the difference in what became a record-setting victory.

Jamie McMurray finished a very quiet eighth place on Saturday night after dominating the Sprint Showdown, leading all 40 laps to earn a spot in the field. As often happens with the Showdown winner, McMurray worked his way through traffic to eventually score a top-10 result when the race was said and done.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and McMurray advanced from the Showdown to the All-Star race. Fortunately for both of them there were no cautions other than the midway flag, so they only had to endure one restart. Had they had to do more, they might have ended up in far different positions in that race.

Charlotte Motor Speedway gets a big break with the weather on Saturday night. While rain did result in a 42-minute red flag, they did get the entire event in.

Worth Noting

The folks at NASCAR don’t give crowd estimates but, from pit road, it looked like the stands had about 100,000 people in them. As All-Star races go, that is above average. A shame we can’t figure out a way to put a little more suspense into the event.

The Busch brothers both led the race two times. They both led for 29 laps. Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne each led the race for 11 circuits. Bowyer led once, Kahne led twice. Johnson only led the race once, for 10 laps, the final ten. With a second straight ASR victory, he is on the verge of making Charlotte his own personal playground again, like it was before the track was repaved.

For all of the talk of no-holds-barred racing that they like to promote for the All-Star race, there were seven cautions on Saturday. One for rain, four for competition breaks, one for debris and one for an on-track incident with Stenhouse bouncing Martin into the infield. There are a lot of memories used in marketing this race. Unfortunately for the fans, there haven’t been too many memories created in the last few years to update those clips.

During the pre-race drivel around the racetrack, the Charlotte Motor Speedway TV group was asking fans questions about the event. One of them claimed the winner of the race won $1,000,000 while the rest of the field got nothing. It was incorrectly acknowledged to be true although, it would make the race a little more interesting if only one driver took home all of the money. It would also be interesting if the drivers had to put up their own money for the purse; they’re radical ideas for an event that may need radical changes.

Top 10 Finishers By Manufacturer

Chevrolet – 5
Ford – 2
Toyota – 3

What’s the Points?

It’s the All-Star race. We don’t care about points. Jimmie Johnson is your point leader and he won the All-Star Race. Expect to see and hear more of this tune before the year is over.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Surprisingly, the average finish rule actually led to some heated racing during the first four segments. In the end, the car that took the lead on the final restart couldn’t be touched and that results in a disappointing end to a good race. We’ll give this one three sweating cans of Busch Light.

Next Up – The long race into night. The Coca-Cola 600 tests man, machine, and fan as the racers turn 400 laps from daylight into darkness on the Sunday before Memorial Day. The race will hit the airwaves at 6:00 PM on Sunday, May 26th as well as PRN radio.

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05/20/2013 01:39 AM
permalink mention of the guy who was second to Mr. Vanilla…terrible recap.

05/20/2013 02:05 AM

“There are a lot of memories used in marketing this race. Unfortunately for the fans, there haven’t been too many memories created in the last few years.”

This about sums it all up. This race is all hype and no substance. I watch most of the races but didn’t make the effort to watch this one. Looks like it may have been the right move.

Oh, and watching Jimmie Johnson win is as entertaining as watching paint dry. At least former dominators like Earnhardt and Petty kept us entertained.

Bill B
05/20/2013 06:53 AM

One of the most uninteresting All-Star races ever. Same for the Open.
Perhaps the need to change the way they over-hype this race.
I bet my friend $20 to $1 that Danica would win the fan vote. He knew she would too but he couldn’t resist the 20 to 1 odds.

05/20/2013 08:06 AM

same song different day. mcmurray lead all laps in the “heat” race.

turned off when you know who won the “fan” vote.

same cars up front week in and week out.

i’m about done with na$car.

05/20/2013 08:29 AM


That was the most glaring thing I noticed about the whole night.


Larry Mac: “We want more, we want more.”


05/20/2013 08:36 AM

How you can give this race three beers is beyond me. Along with a lot of other people, I gave it a big zero. I didn’t even stick around to watch the end because at that point, I just knew who was going to win. Add the farce of a fan vote that allowed sparkle pony to get in and the mix was toxic. I’m using the frontstretch less and less. There used to be a lot of objective writers that weren’t afraid to be critical. Not so much anymore.

05/20/2013 08:50 AM

3 beers? Are you kidding? the nonsense that was the “show” didn’t even rate 1 beer.

2nd year in a row I’ve skipped going to this “show”. Too many boring races that I’ve spent money on to waste my time and money again this year.

You say 100K in the stands – sorry, from the TV shots, it appeared less than that.

There was never a doubt in my mind that Miss NASCAR 2013 was going to win the fan vote. At least her boyfriend raced his way in.

05/20/2013 08:55 AM

thinking out loud…

hoping against hope for some racing i stayed up for that? really? from danika to jimmie that event was not a race.

Fed Up
05/20/2013 09:00 AM

I watched parts of the races during inning breaks of 2 great MLB games. Can anyone explain why the director goes orgasmic with the sub-terrainian shots while not showing the race?

05/20/2013 09:15 AM

Yawn. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along. One more nail in the coffin.

05/20/2013 09:51 AM

This did NOT make me want to watch the race this coming weekend.

05/20/2013 09:52 AM

Boy, do I miss Matt McLaughlin.

05/20/2013 10:07 AM

All Star…. Confusing, cut up, and two laps after each restart..boring
Charlotte..very boring
I “get” why they have race at Charlotte…home field
I don’t “get” why they have race at Charlotte…Very boring.
There are a vast number of varied style tracks to chose from ( I know they tried Atlanta..duh..boring)… What about a road race..short track..or a novel idea..dirt track! It’s a small field..a track like Eldora could handle the cars..and the stands would be full! NASCAR needs to quit the not so cute gimmicks and get back to racing down and dirty!

05/20/2013 10:15 AM

I can’t understand the frenzy about Johnson’s position for the last pit stop. Everyone knows Brian treats him and Chad and Hendrick the same as Carl Long. His car passed inspection so it has to be legal. I guess it has to be his talent that makes his car faster than anyone else’s.

Michael in SoCal
05/20/2013 10:56 AM

@amazed: Does anyone care who comes in second in a no-points ‘All Star’ race? No one seems to care who came in 1st.

05/20/2013 11:30 AM

The best part of the All Star Race? Knowing that there’s no need whatsoever to watch more than the last 20 miles of the race Sunday. Thank you NASCAR for giving me my Memorial Day weekend back by ruining the sport. I’m gonna go do something far more productive with my time.

05/20/2013 11:50 AM

I think Mike did his review based on the first All Star race and Bill Eliott vs DW piece that Speed aired during the rain delay.

Sherri T
05/20/2013 11:57 AM

I was reading a book while the race was going on if that’s any indication how exciting it was….

All I kept thinking was between the all star race being over and Fox Sports 1 coming soon, I could save a little cash by cancelling my subscription to Speed this week!!

05/20/2013 12:19 PM

There was some good racing in the first four segments, both after restarts and once the cars began getting some laps on the tires. The 10-lap shootout was a bust, though, because there wasn’t enough time for cars to start falling off and be able to pass each other over the course of the run. Once JJ took the lead, you knew it was over unless the caution flew.

As for the Sprint Showdown—that race would be much more interesting if, instead of the top two finishers advancing to the feature, it was the winner of each segment. That would force the second-place driver to mix it up with the leader.

Carl D.
05/20/2013 12:54 PM

Jimmie Johnson did exactly what he was supposed to do… give all his haters another reason to hate him even more. While I don’t actually hate him, I damn sure hate his car.

Danica has now raced in the all-star race. I guess that makes her a bonafide all-star. She can thank all of the Justin Bieber/Miranda Cosgrove fans who spent their entire allowance voting multiple times for the privilege of watching her finish behind the real all-stars.

05/20/2013 01:01 PM

Three Cans???!!!
Must have been watching repeats from the early years.
So sad. So much potential and another 3 hours of waste.

05/20/2013 01:16 PM

Did not watch. Can’t watch that slop anymore.

05/20/2013 01:16 PM

Time to move this race to a different place. Once a car is out front in clean air it’s over. Turned it off when JJ took the lead. If JJ is to be compared to Earnhardt he would have to leave his current team and race for several other owners and car makes like Dale Sr. did. Them we’d see how good he really is!

Andy D
05/20/2013 04:16 PM

I like the idea of the drivers putting up their own money. $250,000 each.

If they aren’t pulling in enough to to afford it then they probably aren’t all-stars. And Danica can afford it too.

And I agree with Paul. Dale Sr. raced for twice as many teams as JJ.

05/21/2013 07:38 AM

The All-Star Race should get one beer at most. It has become such a joke I slep thru the middle of it. And the Fan Favorite is (fixed) a joke as well.

JD in NC
05/21/2013 01:41 PM

I “fan” voted for Burton, Blaney, and Truex multiple times – all the while feeling like someone voting in a presidential election in some third world dictator led country. I knew no matter what the actual fan vote results were that Danica would be the all hailed fan vote winner.


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