McMurray Wins Dramatic Battle for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Title
CONCORD, N.C. - Jamie McMurray has a knack for capturing the spotlight on NASCAR's biggest stage and proved it again at Charlotte Motor Speedway by winning $1 million and his first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
The 38-year-old, who captured the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 titles, earned the Sprint All-Star Race victory in dramatic fashion in his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates ride by outracing event pole award winner Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the opening moments of the event's closing 10-lap segment. Once clear of Edwards, McMurray held off an attacking Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing car during the segment's closing moments.
The high-energy, fifth-segment scenario was set up when the 16-car field was reset by drivers' average finishing position in the preceding four 20-lap segments.
Harvick led the pack to the final pit stop. Edwards, who entered the stop in fifth place, emerged first. McMurray held his ground and drove off pit road second following a 12-second, four-tire stop. Harvick drove off pit road in third place following his 13-second stop.
McMurray and Edwards battled side-by-side through the opening lap of the final segment before the No. 1 gained a slight edge at the start/finish line. The tandem made contact through Turn 1 and Turn 2 with eight laps remaining before the McMurray squeezed his car past Edwards' No. 99 at the exit of Turn 2.
The No. 1 prospered in clean air while Harvick engaged Edwards in a side-by-side battle for second. As cars jockeyed for position behind him, McMurray built a 1.35-seconds lead with seven laps remaining.
Harvick cleared the fray with six laps remaining and set his sights on McMurray's bumper. Harvick narrowed McMurray's lead to 0.740 of a second twice in the closing lap before missing a second NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race title by just 0.72 of a second.
"Awesome job by our pit crew at the end. (Crew Chief) Keith Rodden did an unbelieNvable job. He was a huge secret in the garage and I'm so glad that I've had the opportunity to work with him. I can't believe I'm here.
"For me and the car, it was as much fun as you could have - a 10-lap shootout, side-by-side, with Carl and I just going for it. Really, as a kid, that's what you wanted to do - have a shootout like that and the possibility to race for 10 laps.
"Carl got a little bit of a jump on me on the restart and I was able to hang on to his quarter panel. When entered one and three, I was like, 'It's 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.
"We've had good cars all year. We've had some bad luck. This is one of those races that makes up for a lot of the bad times," McMurray said.
He is the 20th different winner in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race's 30-year history and first to win the title for team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates.
Harvick said the difference in the times of the final pit stops proved to be the deciding factor.
"We recovered from the first bad pit stop on pit road, we didn't recover from the second bad pit stop on pit road," he said.
Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line third in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) car, Dale Earnhardt Jr., placed fourth in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports machine and Edwards closed out the event fifth.
"Jamie did a perfect job. I actually got a jump on him. Our restarts had been great all night. I wouldn't have even been in that position if it weren't for my crew. We went from fifth to first in the pits, so my guys did perfectly.
"I should have pulled up in front of Jamie going into one, but I just was reluctant to give up the bottom and I pulled back down. He played it perfectly, hung on my right-rear quarter, got by me and then raced me clean and really hard.
"That was really hard racing those few laps and he got it, so he deserves it. I learned a lesson, but that's a tough one to swallow," Edwards said.
Kyle Busch took the first segment in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) car before Kasey Kahne tore through the field to score second and third segment victories. Harvick, the 2007 All-Star Race champion, captured the fourth segment.
The series remains in Charlotte for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Jeff Gordon, who earned his first victory of the season at Kansas Speedway last week, will start the event with a 15-point lead on Kenseth in the championship standings.
NASCAR's three national series visit Kentucky Speedway June 26-28 for a three-race event weekend featuring the Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts, Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled over and Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225.
Tickets, ticket packages, Kroger Fan Zone passes that provide a stage-side view of Thomas Rhett's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts race-day concert, and campsites can be reserved through the respective pages of this website, by calling (859) 578-2300 or visiting the speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., 41086 just off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
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