The annual Sprint All-Star Race is always hyped as a race that is “checkers or wreckers” and Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway Carl Edwards took the checkered flag and needed a wrecker to get to Victory Lane.
Attempting to slide through the frontstretch grass in celebration, Edwards’ No. 99 Aflac Ford hit the grass, dug in and tore the front end off of the car, nearly getting airborne. Unfortunately for the fans, that was highlight of the night as the race billed as a “gloves come off” anything goes event was a bit of a dud.
Edwards had the strongest car throughout the four-segment race, having to fend off challenges from Kyle Busch and teammate Greg Biffle – who won the night’s first segment.
“The key to winning this race are the guys behind me,” Edwards said. “Bob Osborne and my guys, especially the guys on pit road, I mean they could have dropped the ball. That’s all the pressure in the world on those guys and they performed a flawless pit stop and got us out in front of Kyle. He was a bear on those restarts. If we would have restarted behind him I think it would have been really tough.
“I feel so bad for tearing up the car,” he added, “but Bob says he has a faster one for next week.”
Although he led three times for 19 laps, Busch accomplished something he had struggled to do in years past – finish the All-Star Race with a clean car. Despite his incident free race, Busch was disappointed in missing the $1 million prize, but encouraged by their strong showing.
“The most frustrating part is when you have a shot to win or when you feel like you have a shot to win and something happens to you,” Busch said. “Those are really frustrating because you never know how it would turn out.
“Tonight we flat out got beat,” he added. “There’s nothing to hang our heads about, there’s nothing to be frustrated on tonight. We just didn’t quite have enough when we needed it.”
Coming to life in the final 10-lap segment, David Reutimann simply ran out of time as he was closing on the leaders when the checkered flag flew. Making his second appearance in the Sprint All-Star Race, Reutimann was forced to settle for a third place finish.
“It was a good car the whole race,” Reutimann said. “We just got the track position we needed and be able to run up toward the front. It came down to the pit stop. The guys did a good job. If they hadn’t gotten me that pit stop, we would have run seventh or eighth probably. My pit crew gets the credit for tonight.”
Tony Stewart, Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Sprint Showdown winner David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Sprint Fan Vote winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Sprint Showdown runner-up Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Regan Smith and Kasey Kahne made up the rest of the field.
Despite being hyped as one of the most exciting events of the year, Saturday night’s All-Star Race was fairly tame. Slowed only twice for on-track incidents – Kahne hitting the wall in second segment and Smith spinning in the third segment – Edwards’ post-race fireworks through the grass was the only real highlight.
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