Parks Pit Report: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
Who doesn’t love to go out and race just for a win and a paycheck; that’s the effort that the local drivers that race at Hummingbird Speedway or at Gamblers Raceway Park (set to open later this year) do every time they get on the dirt. NASCAR doesn’t often get that opportunity to just go out and race, forgetting about points or a season title.
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is the one race every year that simply means drivers won their way into a race that delivers a huge paycheck, but no points ramifications.
It’s also provided many memories fans can always think back to when this race comes on the schedule. The first All-Star Race, then named “The Winston” was in 1985, and was 70 laps. The dominant driver that year was Darrell Waltrip, and he was long before the race was even introduced. Rumors about his car were rampant during that race, as teams claimed his engine was bigger than required. Owner Junior Johnson told him that he had a special engine for that race that would get him the win…one that would make 70 laps, and make each one count.
Waltrip went onto the victory, but right after taking the checkered flag, his car went up in smoke. The legend is that he was told to hold the gas and clutch to blow the motor, preventing a full inspection. To this day, D.W. says that wasn’t the case.
There was the “Pass in the Grass” by Dale Earnhardt in 1987, then Rusty Wallace’s spin on D.W. in 1989, leading to a brawl between the respective teams in the pits. In 1992, the Charlotte Motor Speedway installed lights for the first time, and it’s first race was the Winston. Davey Allison won that race, but crashed hard at the finish, ultimately being taken to the hospital. It was appropriately deemed “One Hot Night.”
From Jeff Gordon’s infamous T-Rex car in 1997, Dale Earnhardt Jr’s rookie victory in 2000, or last year’s win by Carl Edwards that saw him hit a manhole cover while sliding through the grass (a race now nicknamed “Checkers AND Wreckers”), this night is all about taking away the attention on the race for a championship, and making it simply on winning one race.
It’s a different format, and has seen a lot of changes over the years. From segments, to mandatory pit stops; inversions and eliminations; $200,000 paydays to now a $1 million incentive, the race is one that is simply all about victory. Win, and you’re in. Lose, and you’re looking on from the sidelines.
SHOOTOUT WINNER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
SHOOTOUT RUNNER-UP: A.J. Allmendinger
SPRINT FAN VOTE WINNER: Bobby Labonte
SEGMENT 1-4 WINNERS: 1-Johnson 2-Kenseth 3-Keselowski 4-Earnhardt Jr.
RESULTS: 1-Johnson 2-Keselowski 3-Kenseth 4-Kyle Busch 5-Earnhardt Jr. 6-Harvick 7-Ambrose 8-Kurt Busch 9-Kahne 10-Newman
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Gordon 17-Stewart 20-Hamlin 23-Edwards
CAUTIONS: 6 for 10 laps. Lap 20 (Competition, Segment 1 break), 27-30 (Oil on track, #99 motor), 40 (Competition, Segment 2 break), 60 (Competition, Segment 3 break), 69-74 (Oil on track, #16 motor), 80 (Competition, Segment 4 break).
LEAD CHANGES: 7 among 7 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-14, Johnson 15-20, Hamlin 21-36, Kenseth 37-40, Keselowski 41-60, Kurt Busch 61-62, Earnhardt Jr. 63-80, Johnson 81-90.
TIME OF RACE: 1 Hr, 28 Mins.
AVERAGE SPEED: 92.045 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.841 Seconds