NASCAR » 22 May 2011
Edwards wins $1.2m All-Star pay cheque
Carl Edwards proved himself the best of the best with victory in the Sprint All-Star competition over Kyle Busch. David Ragan won the Showdown and Dale Earnhardt Jr was the fan choice.
Sprint Cup championship leader Carl Edwards underlined just how strong and on-form he is right now by beating all of the very best drivers in NASCAR's top series in the exhibition All-Star event.
Oh, and he also pocketed a cool million dollars for his evening's work when he held off Kyle Busch in the #18 to the chequered flag.
The All-Star event, and the associated Sprint Showdown, are not part of the regular Sprint Cup season and operate to a highly idiosyncratic format that takes almost as long to understand and explain as the event itself does to run - it doesn't help that the organisers of the event at Charlotte Motor Speedway just love to tinker with it every now and then, too.
To start with, not all of the regular Sprint Cup drivers are eligible to even run in the All-Star event.
The line-up is made up of drivers who have won a Sprint Cup race in 2010 or so far this season, together with all Sprint Cup champions from the last decade (a lower number than usual, thanks to the recent domination by Jimmie Johnson) and all the All-Star winners over the same period.
Taken together that meant the starting line-up consisted of 18 drivers in total: Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Juan Montoya, Ryan Newman, David Reutimann, Regan Smith and Tony Stewart.
The line-up would normally have included a 19th driver - Trevor Bayne became eligible for the race thanks to his win at the Daytona 500. However, the Roush Fenway team announced on Thursday that they were withdrawing Bayne from all racing activity this weekend because of his ongoing health issues.
There are three additional spots available: one is for the winner of an "X-Factor"-style fan vote, and with Dale Earnhardt Jr. no longer automatically included in the All-Star line-up it was a foregone conclusion that Junior would be the overwhelming choice here - reportedly receiving 2.4 million votes.
"I thank not only my fans, but all the fans that voted," said Dale after the vote winner was announced. "I know my fans worked really hard. I kept up on the Internet about the temperature they had about it. They were committed pretty hard. So I appreciate the help."
He insisted that he hadn't taken it for granted. "Anytime there's a contest, they don't announce the winner, there's no guarantees ... I didn't take it for granted. I knew my fans were working really hard. They've done a great job over the last several years of locking up the most popular driver award. All the credit goes to them."
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