Close, but no All-Star Cigar
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race unique in many ways with no championship points at stake, but rather a large prize reward for the victor. In addition, it is the shortest race of the season with a total of 100 laps run in four segments, including a 50-lap segment to open the race, followed by two 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on the pole and led the first several laps of the race before dropping back into the third position for the remainder of the first segment. Busch held on to that position for much of the second 20-lap segment as well. The M&Ms made the decision not to pit following the second segment and Busch started second on the outside lane to open the third portion of the race. He was able to beat Carl Edwards on the restart and claim the lead once again. Edwards would eventually reclaim the lead just prior to the end of the third segment. With a 10-minute break before the final 10-lap segments teams were able to work on the car for an extended period of time. When the 10-minute break concluded all teams would come to the pits for a four tire change. Busch would restart second, but wasn’t able to track down Edwards and went on to finish in that second position.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the 15th position and used the first 50-lap segment to get a good read on his car and gain a couple of spots in the field. He would enter the top 10 for the first time on lap 60 following a caution in the middle of the second segment of the race. Hamlin would jump into the sixth position to open the third segment and enter the top five for the first time on lap 80. He would finish that third segment in the fifth position and the team used the 10-minute break to make final adjustments to the car. The No. 11 Camry would restart the final segment in the sixth position following the four-tire change. Unfortunately Hamlin wasn’t able to improve on his position over those final laps and went on to finish the night seventh.
Joey Logano entered the day needing to race his way into the All-Star race in the 40-lap Showdown event earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, only the top-two finishers would be able to advance into the main event, and Logano was hampered from the outset in a short race when he was forced to start his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from the back of the field following an engine change on Friday. Despite that setback Logano and The Home Depot made an impressive run to the front of the field, climbing from 27th to eighth place in the first 20 lap segment. He was able to put the No. 20 Camry as high as third late in the race but just wasn’t able to close the gap on the second-place car. He went on to finish fifth and unfortunately out of the All-Star Race.
Carl Edwards captured the victory, while Busch finished second, David Reutimann was third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will remain in Charlotte next week for the circuit’s annual marathon event, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 will be televised live by Fox on Saturday, May 29 starting with pre-race coverage at 6 PM ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90.