Kurt Busch wins NASCAR All-Star race
After starting on the pole, Busch won the opening segment of the 100-lap event and bounced his “blue deuce” off the wall twice in the third segment, but was able get past Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to take the lead and then hold off Martin Truex, Jr. over the final lap to win his first all star event in his ninth start.
Joey Logano finished third, followed by Hamlin and Tony Stewart.
Kurt Busch’s win topped off a big day for team owner Roger Penske, who flew in from Indianapolis Motor Speedway where Penske Racing driver Helio Castroneves won the pole for the 94th Indianapolis 500.
“This is huge,” said Busch. “This is one of those big marquee events…this, Daytona, the (Coca Cola) 600, Indy. Just to be able to do it here in front of everybody here from the Penske Racing organization, this is phenomenal.
Kurt Busch’s took home a total payday of $1,078,309 including $25,000 for winning the pole and another $25,000 for winning the first segment with a last lap pass on his brother Kyle.
“We had a rough third segment. We were able to rally,” said Busch. “We took that 10-minute break, took a deep breath, made two shock changes, a shim change on the front shocks and just really went after it. We just needed to be god when it counted. This Miller Lite Dodge was a rocket ship at the end.”
Busch restarted fifth for the final segment after completed his final pit stop of the night and was in perfect position to pounce after JGR teammates Hamlin and Kyle Busch fell back after tangling during a battle for the lead on lap 91.
“I had Jimmie Johnson in the middle of the racetrack, I was digging underneath him, I saw some sparks fly off turn two when Kyle brushed the fence with Hamlin,” said Busch. “I don’t know what happened there, but it hurt both their momentum and I was able to get by Johnson and clear Logano.
“Big bold moves is what I was going for, and it paid off.”
Truex, Jr. raced his way into the all star event by winning the Sprint Showdown earlier in the night and made a remarkable run to the front of the field after starting at the rear of the field.
“We fought track position all night,” said Truex. “Finally got up there at the end, the closer we got to the front, the better we got. Just needed a few more laps. I was catching Kurt there at the end.
“To come here, not be in the show, win the (Showdown), run well all night, it was a lot of fun for us.”
Jimmie Johnson, a perennial favorite at Charlotte Motor Speedway, won the second and third segments, leading all but two laps, to collect $150,000 before bringing the field to the final competition caution on lap 90.
After a rather mundane first three segments, the fireworks came out early in the final segment.
With the final running order set by the final four-tire stop at the end of the third segment, Hamlin’s championship-winning pit crew got him out first ahead of Kyle Busch, Johnson and Logano.
Moments after the green flag waved to start the final segment, Johnson forced Logano into the grass coming out of the frontstretch, causing Logano to get out of shape and slide into Mark Martin, touching off an eight-car crash that took out Martin, David Reutimann, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards.
Logano later admitted his fault in the incident.
“I started getting underneath, (Johnson) started blocking. My left sides touched the grass, it made me loose, I chased up the track and checked up a ton. That just caused a big wreck,” said Logano. “It was my fault because I stuck (the car) in there.
“It was an all-star race. There was no give and take, which you have to expect with a race like this coming down to the end. At that point in the race, you’re sitting fifth, you need to get some more track position there. That was a quick way I thought I could get a couple of spots.”
With only green-flag laps counting in the final segment, the field came to the green flag once again with Hamlin taking off on the restart with Kyle Busch ducking under Johnson to hold onto second.
A lap later, Busch got a run on Hamlin and tried to make a move to the outside as Hamlin moved up to block, forcing Kyle Busch into the wall.
The incident killed Hamlin’s momentum, allowing Johnson and Kurt Busch to fly by underneath with Kurt Busch moving to the lead with Johnson close behind.
Busch began free-falling through the field and eventually pounded the wall with two laps to go, taking out Kasey Kahne in the process.
Following the caution for Kyle Busch’s crash, Kurt Busch took off again on the restart as Johnson and Hamlin battled for the second spot, a battle Johnson lost as he broke loose and spun coming through turn four to bring out the final caution.
With just one restart to go, Busch again pulled away at the start as Truex moved past Logano to take second but ran out of laps to catch Busch.
Kevin Harvick finished sixth, followed by Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Bobby Labonte.
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