(AP) Jimmie Johnson races to record 4th All-Star win
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
Cross another milestone off of Jimmie Johnson’s list. He stands alone in All-Star history.
He also joined the late Davey Allison as only the second driver to win back-to-back All-Star races.
It was fitting that he did it at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the track Johnson, the five-time NASCAR champion, has dominated since his 2002 rookie season. Johnson has won six points races at Charlotte, led more than 1,600 laps and the win in the $1 million Sprint All-Star Race was his second straight, fourth in 12 years. He also won in 2003 and 2006.
A day after Johnson overshot his pit stall during qualifying to earn a poor starting spot, his Hendrick Motorsports crew changed four tires in 11 seconds on the mandatory final spot to send Johnson back onto the track in second place for the final restart.
He lined up inside of teammate Kasey Kahne for the final 10-lap sprint to the cash, and the two battled side-by-side for a little more than a lap before Johnson cleared Kahne completely. He then sailed away to an easy victory.
Joey Logano finished second and Kyle Busch, who won two of the first four segments, was third as neither had a shot at running down Johnson once he got his No. 48 Chevrolet out front.
Kahne faded to fourth and Kurt Busch, who also won two segments to give the Busch brothers a sweep, was fifth.
It was disappointing for both Busch brothers, who had the cars to beat through the first 80 laps. New scoring rules designed to stop sandbagging sent the drivers onto pit road for the mandatory final stop in order of their average finish in the first four segments.
The Busch brothers tied with an average finish of 2.0, and Kurt went down pit road as the leader based on the tiebreaker of winning the final segment.
But the two Hendrick cars beat everybody off pit road, Kyle Busch exited in third and a poor final pit stop dropped Kurt to fifth.
Johnson didn’t think he had a shot at winning the All-Star race after botching his qualifying run and starting 20th in the 22-car field. By staying patient through the four 20-lap segments, he was in position at the end to make his move.
The win capped a big day for Chevrolet, which swept the first 10 spots in Indianapolis 500 qualifying shortly before racing began at Charlotte. Then Johnson, the current Sprint Cup points leader, put the manufacturer in Victory Lane.
Jamie McMurray won the 40-lap Sprint Showdown before the All-Star race to transfer into the main event, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second to earn the other berth.
Danica Patrick won the Sprint fan vote to claim the last open spot in the race. It wasn’t a big surprise that Patrick won the vote _ her fans last year elected her most popular driver of the Nationwide Series _ and her public relations team was ready with a “Thank You Fans” bumper sticker she slapped on the side of her Chevrolet before the All-Star race began. She finished 20th.
Before the race, she said she wasn’t sure why her fans so ardently support her.