Parks Pit Report: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte
Each year, the Sprint All-Star Race is one of those events where drivers can just let loose, and go back to the way they were brought up. There are no points on the line, no worries about taking a tumble in the standings, but a lot of money to take the checkered flag.
In years past, that means teams bring a set up specifically for this race. In the first All-Star event in 1985, then called The Winston, Darrell Waltrip’s team owner Junior Johnson brought a specific engine package that he knew would win the race. He left it up to Waltrip to get the job done.
Waltrip went on to win the race…and no sooner did he cross the finish line did white smoke come pouring out the exhaust pipes. Johnson built an engine that would race not one lap more than the then-70 lap distance.
Since then, the moments created at this event have become the most historic in the sport.
Who could ever forget Dale Earnhardt’s infamous “Pass in the Grass” in 1987, a race where even the cool-headed Bill Elliott got hot under the collar. Then came 1989 where Waltrip again had the lead, but Rusty Wallace hit him with two laps remaining to spin him out. Afterwards, the two crews got into a fight and Waltrip gave us the line, “I guess greed overcame speed.”
The 1992 event became know as “One Hot Night” as the Charlotte Motor Speedway was lit up at night for the first time…and saw Davey Allison win the race over Kyle Petty, then spin drivers-side into the wall, never going to victory lane.
Former NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon has three wins in the event, each unique. He swept all the segments in 1995, holding off both Waltrip and Earnhardt to earn the respect of his veteran racers. In 1997, his “T-Rex” car was revolutionary for the time, as the crew showcased that NASCAR had a grey area in the rules, and exploited them to win the race. That car has not been back to the track, as NASCAR recommended they not even load it on the hauler.
Then in 2001, he crashed along with six other cars on the first lap because rain began hammering the track. NASCAR then made the call to each team that wrecked to unload the backup car, and they would go racing once again. Gordon took a car that wasn’t practiced, never qualified…never sat in until engines fired again, and won.
Saturday night’s installment of the All-Star Race wasn’t exactly one of those races where a big moment happened during the race. By comparison, the 100-lap exhibition was rather dull according to this NASCAR junkie.
But, afterwards was a little, I guess unexpected.
When Carl Edwards wins a race, his normal routine is to pull up to the start/finish line, unbuckle from the car, and do a backflip off the window. Well, he decided to go “Dukes of Hazard” on the celebration and slid the car in the grass…only to hit a manhole cover to drain water. The nose of the car was torn halfway off, and even Edwards himself couldn’t believe what happened.
Nevertheless, he got out, did his backflip, and then went into the stands to celebrate with the fans. But, seeing as victory lane was on the front straightaway, he could not drive the car because of the damage.
So, out comes the hook to park the car in victory lane, and with the confetti in the air, along with the $1 million paycheck he took home for the victory, Edwards celebrated the biggest payday in his career.
So what do you call a race where the biggest incident happened in victory? SPEED TV’s analyst Mike Joy came up with the perfect line to describe it.
“So, it’s checkers AND wreckers,” he exclaimed.
Makes the most sense because he got the flag, and the check, and then wrecked. The unfortunate part, Edwards’ car owner, Jack Roush, will probably make him come to the shop and assist in repairing the car. Seeing as the same car is slated to be run next week in the Coca-Cola 600 at the same race track, Edwards better enjoy the big payday.
Otherwise, all his winnings are going to new body panels.
SHOWDOWN WINNER: David Ragan
SHOWDOWN RUNNER-UP: Brad Keselowski
FAN VOTE WINNER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
SEGMENT 1 WINNER: Greg Biffle
SEGMENT 2 WINNER: Carl Edwards
SEGMENT 3 WINNER: Carl Edwards
FINAL RESULTS: 1-Edwards 2-Kyle Busch 3-Reutimann 4-Stewart 5-Biffle 6-Kenseth 7-Hamlin 8-Ragan 9-Harvick 10-Newman
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Johnson 14-Earnhardt Jr. 15-Gordon 18-Martin 21-Kahne
CAUTIONS: 5 for 8 laps. Lap 50 (Competition), 58-61 (#4 accident-T1), 70 (Competition), 74-77 (#78 spin-T2), 90 (Competition).
LEAD CHANGES: 7 among 4 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-2, Biffle 3-50, Edwards 51-62, Johnson 63-67, Edwards 68-70, Kyle Busch 71-85, Edwards 86-100.