CONCORD, N.C. — It was a million-dollar move by Jamie McMurray.
Two laps into the final 10-lap segment, McMurray powered his way around then-leader Carl Edwards on the outside line to take the lead and held on Saturday night to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and its $1 million first prize.
“What a job by our pit crew at the end. I can’t believe I’m here. It’s unbelievable,” McMurray said over his radio after taking the checkered flag.
Kevin Harvick finished second, Matt Kenseth was third, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Edwards was fifth.
Edwards, the pole-winner, took early command of the first 20-lap segment, leading the first nine laps until Kyle Busch went inside to pass for the lead on Lap 10.
Busch ended the first segment in the lead followed by Jeff Gordon, Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Edwards.
All of the drivers hit pit road between segments except Denny Hamlin, who took the lead on the start of the second 20-lap segment. He was followed by Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, all of whom took only two new tires on the stop.
Just as Edwards was getting around Hamlin for the lead, Kyle Busch got into Clint Bowyer and triggered a three-car wreck that also collected Joey Logano.
“They were racing hard in front of me and (Busch) spun out there,” Logano said. “It’s unfortunate but there are no points, so nothing lost tonight.”
Busch said he was simply racing hard to get a good average finish, which is critical to the start of the final segment.
“You’re trying to protect that average finish you’re supposed to have for the last segment and trying to race pass as many cars as you can,” he said. “Those are the opportunities you have to take in the All-Star.”
On the restart on Lap 31, Edwards was in the lead followed by Hamlin, Gordon and Kahne.
A.J. Allmendinger slammed into the wall on Lap 31 to bring out the second caution of the race. On the restart on Lap 34, Edwards led followed by Khane and Hamlin.
Kahne got around Edwards for the lead on Lap 36 and held on to win Segment No. 2. Harvick was second, Edwards third, Greg Biffle fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.
During the break, several teams hit pit road, but McMurray, Kenseth, Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. remained on the track to start Segment No. 3.
Kahne worked his way back to the lead, passing McMurray on Lap 47 to move out front once again.
Kahne easily held off Harvick to win Segment No. 3, followed by McMurray, Keselowski and Kenseth.
All of the drivers pit during the break and McMurray was first off pit road and took over the lead on the start of Segment No. 4 on Lap 61.
As the cars passed through Turn 3, Gordon slid up into Biffle and triggered a three-car wreck that also collected Truex. On the restart on Lap 64, McMurray retained the lead, followed by Keselowski, Harvick, Kurt Busch and Edwards.
Harvick worked his way around McMurray for the lead on Lap 76.
During the break and prior to the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the final segment, the cars were lined up according to the average finish of the first four segments. Harvick entered pit road first, followed by McMurray, Johnson, Earnhardt and Edwards.
Edwards was the first off pit road and took over the lead for the start of the final 10-lap segment, followed by McMurray, Harvick, Kenseth and Johnson.
Two laps later, McMurray powered into the lead.
©2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
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