CONCORD, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson etched his name into NASCAR Sprint All-Star history on Saturday night after winning the 90-lap shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS now ranks first among drivers all-time with four victories in the exhibition event and edges three-time winners Jeff Gordon and Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson, winner of the 2012 event, becomes just the second driver all-time to claim the race in back-to-back seasons.
Johnson had to climb from the back of the field to win Saturday’s race after a subpar qualifying effort on Friday. Then, Johnson overshot his pit stall during the mandatory four-tire stop and was credited with the 18th-place starting spot. But on Saturday, his pit crew turned out an 11.8-second four-tire stop to put Johnson on the front row alongside teammate Kasey Kahne. Johnson stormed out to pace the field all 10 laps and win his fourth All-Star Race.
Kahne finished fourth, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon were scored seventh and 12th, respectively.
Here is the breakdown by segment:
FIRST SEGMENT: The first 20-lap segment opened with a small rain shower threatening in the area. Kahne and Gordon rolled off the grid ninth and 10th, respectively, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Earnhardt and Johnson rounded out the top 18.
Kahne and Gordon improved their track position to seventh and ninth, respectively. They opted to stay on the track when NASCAR officials displayed the yellow flag for rain on Lap 8. Earnhardt and Johnson, meanwhile, hit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Earnhardt reported that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS was running tight in traffic. Within five laps, the caution flag was replaced with a red one as the rain intensified. On pit road, the teams were allowed the opportunity to work on their cars and prepare for the remainder of the first segment.
After a 41 minute red-flag delay, the cars rolled back on track with Kahne in seventh, Gordon ninth, Earnhardt 11th and Johnson in 17th. Gordon picked up a spot on the Lap 16 restart, moving into eighth, and Kahne moved into sixth two circuits later. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS used the bottom lane to inch his way through the field, ticking off one more spot by the time the first segment concluded. At the end of the first 20-lap segment, Kahne was running fifth, Gordon in seventh, Earnhardt in 10th and Johnson in 15th. Results: Kahne fifth, Gordon seventh, Earnhardt 10th and Johnson 15th.
SECOND SEGMENT: Johnson lined up 11th for the next 20-lap segment, but climbed to eighth within the first circuit to join his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kahne (sixth), Gordon (seventh) and Earnhardt (10th).
Gordon and Earnhardt took advantage of the caution period on Lap 25 for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Earnhardt, running ninth prior to the yellow flag, reiterated that his No. 88 Chevy SS was still tight on entry all the way through to the corner so crew chief Steve Letarte called for a trackbar adjustment. Gordon, who hit pit road from the 12th position, told crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS was turning better, but still felt somewhat loose.
Johnson and Kahne opted not to pit during the caution period and lined up sixth and seventh, respectively, for the restart. Prior to the Lap 29 restart, Johnson had told crew chief Chad Knaus that the snug-handling condition was helping his No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS. That appeared to remain the case for Johnson, who moved into fifth within two circuits.
But Kahne wasn’t going to let his teammate get the best of him and moved in to fight for the top-five spot. The Hendrick Motorsports duo battled as the segment unfolded. Johnson ultimately won the spot, finishing in fifth. Kahne took sixth.
The earlier adjustments somewhat helped Earnhardt and Gordon. Earnhardt improved to 10th with four laps remaining in the second segment, while Gordon climbed to 11th. Still reporting a tight-handling condition, Earnhardt held on to claim 10th in the second 20-lap feature. Gordon finished 11th. Results: Johnson fifth, Kahne sixth, Earnhardt 10th and Gordon 11th
THIRD SEGMENT: All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates made pit stops during the yellow-flag period between segments, and their pit strategies were quite varied. Earnhardt opted for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, which put the driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS in fifth for the restart.
Johnson restarted the third segment in sixth after a four-tire stop. Kahne lined up 10th after stopping for four tires and fuel as well as air pressure and wedge adjustments. Gordon lined up 14th, voicing frustration with the traffic on the 1.5-mile speedway.
Earnhardt and Johnson were on the move at the drop of the green flag. Earnhardt, on two tires, rocketed into third before settling into fifth. Johnson, running on four fresh tires, moved into third by Lap 43 and was fighting for second three laps later. Gordon sustained some damage to the right side of his No. 24 Chevy SS after making contact with the wall on Lap 48
By Lap 54, Johnson was holding steady in third and Earnhardt had moved into fourth. Kahne, still trying to use the bottom lane, was running sixth. Gordon had climbed into the top 10 four laps earlier and was holding there. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates concluded the third segments in these same spots. Results: Johnson third, Earnhardt fourth, Kahne sixth, Gordon 10th.
FOURTH SEGMENT: Kahne beat the competition off pit road during the pre-segment stop by taking two tires, a chassis adjustment and a tank fuel of fuel. His teammates took four tires and various chassis adjustments. Earnhardt and Gordon reported tight-handling conditions, although Gordon noted that his car turned better once he could pick up the throttle. Gordon was clocked too fast entering pit road and had to complete a pass-through penalty. The penalty wasn’t an issue for Gordon, who required another pit road stop anyway to address fender rub on the right-side of the No. 24 Chevy SS.
Kahne lined up on the outside of the front row for the restart for the final segment, while Earnhardt started sixth. Johnson rolled off the grid in ninth. Kahne led the first circuit, which unfolded in wild style around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval. By Lap 62, Kahne was in command of the field, with Johnson fourth and Earnhardt in sixth. Gordon had climbed to 18th within the first five laps.
The caution flag was waved for debris on Lap 66 after Earnhardt and another competitor made contact on-track. At the time of the yellow flag, Kahne was leading, Johnson was fifth, Earnhardt was eighth and Gordon 16th. The No. 5 team decided against pitting, but Earnhardt led a trend for the remainder of the field. Earnhardt told Letarte the balance was off in his No. 88 Chevy SS, so Letarte offered up right-side tires, fuel and adjustments.
Prior to stopping, Gordon told Gustafson that the track bar adjustment helped the No. 24 Chevy SS, but had “totally disconnected” the car. Gustafson ordered new adjustments and Gordon took right-side tires before returning to the track.
Kahne lined up on the outside of the front row for the Lap 71 restart ahead of teammate Johnson in third. Kahne battled with Kurt Busch for the lead before settling into second three laps later.
FIFTH SEGMENT: After nine laps, the yellow flag was displayed to set the field for the final 10-lap shootout. NASCAR realigned drivers for the final segment based on their average finishes in the first four segments. A photo-finish between Kahne and Johnson ultimately put Kahne in third and Johnson in fourth. Earnhardt was set in eighth and Gordon in 10th. Once aligned, the drivers prepared for their mandatory four-tire stops that would then reset the field for the final 10-lap shootout.
Kahne and Johnson were the first two cars off pit road, with Kahne edging his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by a nose. Earnhardt left in ninth, and Gordon was 15th.
Kahne opted for the outside of the front row and used a push from Joey Logano to take the lead briefly before Johnson powered his way into contention. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates battled fiercely around the 1.5-mile speedway, Kahne running the high line and Johnson on the bottom. Within the first circuit, Johnson took the lead and appeared headed toward history – his fourth career all-star victory. Results: Johnson first, Kahne fourth, Earnhardt seventh and Gordon 12th.