Jamie McMurray captures the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte
Jamie McMurray was able to pull away from Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and the rest of the field in the final 10-lap segment to score his first win in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C.
Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America
By Jay Pennell
With a fast car and a fast pit crew, Jamie McMurray was able to hold off Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick to win his first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the $1 million prize to go along with it.
McMurray was helped to the front of the field in part thanks to great pit calls from crew chief Keith Rodden. Taking two tires after the third segment allowed McMurray to get to the front of the field, setting him up for a run to the finish in the final two segments.
Restarting the final segment of the night in the second spot, McMurray and Edwards battled hard for the lead right off the bat, neither giving an inch. Running on the high side of the track, McMurray was able to get a strong run off Turn 2 to power out front and take the lead as Edwards fell back behind him.
As Harvick raced hard with Edwards for the second spot, McMurray was able to pull away and score the win.
"Really, as a kid that's what you want to do is to have a shootout like that, and to have a possibility to race for 10 laps" McMurray said of his battle with Edwards. "Carl got a little bit of a jump on me on the restart. I was able to hang on his quarter-panel. When we kept entering (Turn) 1 and Turn 3, I was like, 'This is for a million bucks, if we wreck it's not that big of a deal.' It's so cool to come out on top of that."
McMurray credited much of his success to Rodden, his rookie crew chief.
"It's really hard as a driver to be in the car and know the handling is going away, and have him say you're have to stay out on old tires or get two tires," McMurray explained. "Keith did an unbelievable job. He was a huge secret in the garage, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with him."
Harvick was forced to settle for second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards, who continued to fall back in the final 10-lap segment.
"That's frustrating," Edwards said. "I just went back and watched the replays. Jamie just did a perfect job on the start. I had him cleared for a minute. If I would have pulled in front of him in Turn One, if I would have gone high, I think we would have won that race, but I was just so reluctant to give up the bottom. Jamie just did a perfect job."
While McMurray praised his pit crew and strategy, runner-up Harvick felt his race was lost on pit road.
"I thought we had a really fast race car and did all the things we needed to put ourselves in position on the racetrack and just couldn't get it done on pit road tonight," Harvick said. "We just didn't make it happen at the end and ran out of time as we got to the closing laps."
Edwards took the lead on the initial green flag to start the first segment, but had to put up with a hard-charging Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. As the two battled, Harvick and Jeff Gordon closed on their back bumpers as the two Chevrolets battles for the third spot.
Busch took the lead from Edwards on Lap 10, while Gordon took second from the No. 99 Ford Lap 13. Edwards continued to fight a tight car falling back to fifth at the end of the first segment.
As Busch set the pace up front, Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne raced hard for the fifth spot, swapping the spot between them lap after lap.
When the caution fell to end segment one, Kyle Busch led Gordon, Harvick, Kahne, Edwards, Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.
Kyle Busch led everyone but Denny Hamlin to pit road, while Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch won the race off pit road with two tire stops.
Hamlin jumped out to the lead on the start of the segment, but behind him the fight was on.
The first caution of the night came when Kyle Busch got a huge run off Turn 2 and got into the back of Clint Bowyer, when Bowyer got loose, he got into Busch, who slid up the track narrowly avoiding Dale Earnhardt Jr. As Busch slid back down the track, he made hard contact with Joey Logano.
"I was just trying to run the high side there and got a run off (Turn)," Busch said. "I saw Kurt get really bottled up and about get in the wall so he had to check-up real had and my shot was in the middle -- to go across three lanes and underneath Bowyer, but Bowyer blocked it and when he did I got into him and got him squirrely and I was still going low trying to get him and he touched me and just spun me out the wrong way. I don't know, just trying to go."
"They were just crashing in front of me," Logano said. "I thought he was gonna stay up by the wall and he started coming down and I was in the wrong spot and I couldn’t get low enough quick enough as quick as he was coming down. I wish I would have turned back to the right and maybe I could have gone back to the outside of him, but once he started coming down you’re kind of aimed right at him unfortunately and it killed our Shell/Pennzoil Ford, so we don’t get to have any fun tonight."
Under the caution, a number of teams hit pit road for tires and adjustments on thier car.
Following the restart, Greg Biffle took it three-wide with Brian Vickers exiting Turn 2 and as the No. 55 Toyota came down, he hit Allmendinger, sending him down the track and into the inside wall to bring out the second caution of the night.
Under the second caution, a handful of cars hit pit road for service, including Harvick, Josh Wise, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski.
Kahne's car came to life following the restart, taking the lead from Edwards on Lap 35 and leading the rest of the second segment.
As Kahne led the field to pit road, McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out on the track. On pit road, Biffle and Earnhardt Jr. took two tires, while Harvick, Kahne and Edwards followed with four tires.
Biffle and Earnhardt Jr. led the field to start the third segement of the night, as Kahne charged to the front on four fresh tires. With a fast car that could run the high line and the bottom of the track, Kahne retook the lead from McMurray on Lap 47.
Kahne led the field to the end of Segment 3, followed by Harvick, McMurray, Keselowski, Kenseth, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Gordon, Vickers and Truex.
As the field hit pit road between segments, McMurray won the race off with two tires, followed by Keselowski, Johnson and Kurt Busch, who also took two tires. Harvick and Kahne were the first cars off pit road with four tires.
McMurray and Keselowski brought the field to the green flag to start the fourth and final 20-lap segment.
As the field fought for postion, something broke on Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet entering Turn 3 and was tagged by Truex Jr. The two cars hooked together and shot into the outside wall, collecting the No. 16 of Biffle to bring out the third caution of the night.
Bummer about our night. Fast car. Not sure what broke but something in the front end. Great racing out there! Can't wait for next week.
McMurray's No. 1 Chevrolet was able to jump out to the lead on the restart on Lap 67, as Harvick, Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Edwards battled for second behind him.
One of the most dominant cars of the night, Kahne caught the wall on Lap 70 running 12th, blamining oil on the track. The hit didn't bring out the caution, and out front Harvick and McMurray put on a great battle for the top spot. Harvick was able to grab the lead with an agressive move under McMurray into Turn 3 on Lap 76.
As the fourth segment came to an end, Kahne's right front tire gave out, sending the No. 5 Chevrolet into the outside wall.
Harvick led McMurray, Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Vickers, Hamlin, Kensethh, Earnhardt Jr., and Edwards to end Segment 4.
With the field under caution, NASCAR reset the field according to the field's average finish in the first four segments. Harvick led the field onto pit road, followed by McMurray, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Edwards, Kenseth, Keselowski, Vickers, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Hamlin, Stewart, David Ragan and Josh Wise.
Following the mandatory four-tire stop, Edwards won the race off pit road followed by McMurray, Harvick, Kenseth, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Vickers, Keselowski, Stewart, Ragan, Wise and Kahne.
After a hard-fought battle for the lead, McMurray was able to wrestle the top spot from Edwards before opening up a commanding lead with eight laps to go.
As McMurray pulled away, Harvick took second from Edwards and set his sights on the No. 1 Chevrolet. Unable to chase him down, Harvick was forced to settle for second as McMurray won his first Sprint All-Star Race.