19 May 2013
Johnson collects fourth All Star win - and a million dollars
Four segments down, two-all to the Busch brothers with no one else getting a look-in: which of them was to get the ultimate prize at the end of the final ten-lap dash? Although Kurt and Kyle formed the front row going into this last part of the event, the action started with a mandatory four-tyre pit stop for all cars - and neither Busch won the race off pit road, the prize of track position for the restart going instead to Kasey Kahne.
"We didn't have a good stop and came out too far behind," admitted Kyle, unusually since the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew is known for putting their man out ahead of the competition during the regular Cup season. "We came out third, but still you got to be on the front row if you're going to win this deal in 10 laps.
"A little slow on the stop and then getting beat around on the restart," he continued. "Everybody running into me, knocking me around and sucking on my door and spinning me out. Can't get going on any of the restarts with everybody crowding me.
"That's the All-Star race," he shrugged. "That's what happens. That's fine. Had plenty of speed tonight, but as always, the best car here with me behind the wheel don't win."
Nor did his brother Kurt fare much better, the #78 ending up down in fifth place for the green flag. "We were one tick slow on our pit stop and one tick off on the chassis adjustment. That was the difference. You have to be perfect to win this race. We weren't. It was an A- overall performance."
So Kahne was in the box seat for the final restart - only to lose it to his Hendrick team mate Jimmie Johnson, who had taken the green on the front row after recovering from a poor qualifying (a dropped lugnut in the mandatory pit stop that is a part of the unique format of deciding the grid for the All-Star race) and from a slow start to he evening (he'd picked up to just 15th place in the first segment and appeared to slog his way up through the field over the remainder of the race.)
Benefiting from a great pit stop from the #48 Hendrick crew, he blitzed his team mate and scampered away to collect the night's big prize - the fourth time he's managed it in his 12 appearances in the event. It breaks a three-way tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Sr. who have won it three times in their careers, and puts Johnson in a class of his own - much to his surprise, he admitted.
"That's crazy. Gosh, to beat Jeff and Earnhardt, two guys that I've looked up to my whole life and two massive icons of our sport, this means the world to me," he said.
“I really didn't think we had a shot at winning tonight, starting (18th), but we had a great race car and worked our way through there and got the job done," said Johnson. "We had a great race car and worked our way through there and got the job done
"Over time, honestly, it's just dedication and drive from every member of Hendrick Motorsports, and every member on this #48 team," he continued. "We're very proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished, but we know we've got to keep pushing harder and keep pushing one another and we did it again here tonight."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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