CONCORD, N.C. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Northeast Correspondent Kyle Magda — Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images North America photo —
What was a night of great racing and massive confusion ended with Joey Logano once again in Charlotte’s victory lane.
Logano tracked down Sprint Showdown winner Kyle Larson in the final 13 laps and neither gave each other an inch to take home one-million dollars in Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race.
A drag race on the frontstrech with three laps to go had 23-year-old Larson try to hold off last fall’s Charlotte winner out of Turn 2 and got loose, slapped the wall to end any chance at bringing home the money. Logano drove away from Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski and from there on out, the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford went on cruise-control for Logano’s first win in his sixth try at NASCAR’s All-Star night.
“This Shell/Pennzoil Ford was fast when we unloaded, we never showed our full potential the whole race,” Logano said. “It seemed like thec aution came out at the wrong time, we lost a little track position, had a couple of bad restarts but eventually had a good restart and was able to get towards the front and able to race with Kyle Larson. What a fun race, he was going to run me hard, I knew that, and I had to run him hard. Nothing to lose, it’s for a million bucks. This is race you want to have on your resume, it’s just so special to say you won the all star race.
“It’s even special to be in the race, I’ve missed this race a few times. It’s so cool to break through and get a win even though it’s not for points but it’s nice momentum building for the Coke 600.”
Logano keeps Team Penske in CMS victory lane for a second-straight win at the track with next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 to add another victory to the organization in NASCAR’s longest race. Also, his win in Saturday night’s All-Star Race was Logano’s first win of any kind since the Talladega turmoil last fall.
The show didn’t stop in Penske camp. The 1-2 team finish was a first in the history of the All-Star Race, but Kyle Larson’s momentum from earlier in the day stayed with him, even under a full moon.
Larson gave everyone a show Saturday with a beating-and-banging finish to transfer into the 32nd-annual All-Star Race with the Sprint Showdown win. The excitement carried into the main event and the Chip Ganassi Racing driver came up short again in as many weeks of breaking into the winner’s circle.
“I’m super disappointed, feels like I keep letting my team down,” Larson said. “They did everything right, they worked their tails off after I got all that damage in the showdown and we had a really, really, good Target Chevy. I was able to get to the front pretty quick and be in the best possible position there for the last restart and got clear right away, thought I could cruise. I was getting looser throughout the race and we were making adjustments but I guess we weren’t making big enough ones and just got loose then Joey caught me.”
“He did a really good job sidedrafting me. I tried to hang on to his corner kinda like I did to Chase earlier today. I just got really loose as soon as I got down in the corner and we’re going so fast I couldn’t correct it then I drilled the wall. Yeah just really disappointed but congrats to Logano and their team. Hats off to my guys, they worked their tails off. Fast cars the last few weeks but we’ve struggled with that up until now. Having fun just this will be hard to get over.”
Ironically enough, Logano and Larson ran 1-2 for some of last October’s Bank of America 500 before the 42 made a dead-left onto pit road with Kyle Busch already there and both cars getting damage.
Where to begin with the rest of Saturday night’s action. Going into the final segment, the first nine, 10 or 11th-place cars come down pit road, take fresh tires while the rest of the lead-lap cars got new Goodyears for the race’s final 13 laps. Carolina Panthers tight-end Greg Olsen drew an 11 in FOX’s Hollywood Hotel, giving the lead to six-time, but was on old tires along with defending Cup champ Kyle Busch on the front row.
The snarling pack of drivers behind gobbled them up on the restart as Larson began to slowly get away and make him a richer man at night’s end. A full moon over CMS caused a lot of confusion for competitors not knowing what to do or where to go for the next part.
All-Star Race Grand Marshall Tony Stewart ran his last All-Star Race and was pretty vocal after being collected in a chain-reaction crash when Trevor Bayne made contact with Matt Kenseth, leaving the three-time Cup champ with nowhere to go.
“I got in a wreck,” Stewart said. “I mean, the No. 24 (Chase Elliott) wrecked everybody and put everybody behind him in jeopardy and we got caught on the outside of it. I shouldn’t have been back there in the first place. We couldn’t even get clarification after the pit stop as to where we were even supposed to be and then we restarted and find out we’re a lap down and it’s like, how did that happen? How did that happen? It’s the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever been a part of.
“”I’m as baffled as everybody,” Stewart said. “I don’t know how in the hell we were scored a lap down after they stopped the 20 car and they pit everybody together. It’s the most screwed-up All-Star Race I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m glad this is the last one.”
The same reaction came from Kenseth after the wreck happened and last week’s winner went out early in a multi-car crash with Stewart and Kasey Kahne.
I got more than bumped from behind. I got run over,” Kenseth said.
The format for tonight’s race, in simple terms, seemed like one hot mess (instead of One Hot Night), but the close side-by-side, door-handle-to-door-handle type of racing with even lower downforce made for some great racing starting with Saturday’s Sprint Showdown and ending with a Logano-Larson duel to bring home the big bucks.
2000 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried to get around the No. 42 in the flurry after the restart and didn’t make up any more ground in a specially-designed No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet for this race.
“Didn’t know which way was up and what way was right and left,” Earnhardt said. “Lap-down cars were pitting with the lead-lap cars and the wave around cars were up front but NASCAR did a good job sorting out the lineups, everyone was where they were supposed to be when we went back to green so you can’t complain. It’s just they were doing it unlike any other way I’ve seen them do it before. I’m sure they ran into some scenarios tonight they weren’t anticipating and that was probably part of it and guys getting caught a lap down, the 20 not pitting, and the first 50 laps all that stuff, we weren’t anticipating all that stuff.
“As far as our Mountain Dew/Nationwide Chevy, we got it better, a lot of the setup is new stuff. We were trying to find some speed with so we still have some gains to make to win the race but we outran a lot of guys that have been outrunning us the last couple of weeks. It’s positive; I think the guys can take away. We didn’t get to practice so we worked real hard during the race changing a lot of stuff and I hope Greg learned a lot. Next weekend we’ll actually get to practice some, try to make some changes and see if we can’t get our car better for the 600.
“I’d love to win that race before I retire.”
All of NASCAR’s teams and drivers stay home for another week at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend to cap off a full-blown day of racing next Sunday.
RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; Sprint All-Star Race; Charlotte Motor Speedway; May 21, 2016
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Carl Edwards
- Kurt Busch
- Chase Elliott
- Trevor Bayne
- Greg Biffle
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch`
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
- Ryan Newman
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Danica Patrick
- Kyle Larson
- Jamie McMurray
- Matt Kenseth
- Kasey Kahne
- Tony Stewart