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Race rewind: Looking back at the All-Star race

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, May. 19, 2013

Observations

• Enough with the gimmicks already. The latest gimmick employed in the NASCAR All-Star Race this year was to use the average finish of drivers’ first four segments to determine how they would enter pit road for their mandatory pit stop before the final 10-lap segment. The goal was laudable – provide incentive for drivers to race hard every segment. The problem was no one in the stands – and then apparently on the Speed broadcast – had access to the information necessary to tell the outcome of that tabulation. Incorrect information on the TV broadcast left many thinking eventual Jimmie Johnson somehow “cheated” in winning the final segment and $1 million. One of the reasons NASCAR has said it doesn’t take away wins as penalties is that fans should know the winner of the race when they leave the track. Well, they should also know the rules – and have access to the correct results. If you run a race with rules than leaves fans screaming of conspiracy, then the rules are too complicated. Here’s an idea: Perhaps the all-star race can return to it was intended and that would be a showcase of the best drivers in NASCAR doing what they do best – race.

• When will race fans finally come to terms with the fact that Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports are simply one of the best they have ever seen – or may ever see – rather than always searching for way to take away from his accomplishments? It’s likely wishful thinking but at least Johnson seems to have found humor as a way to deal with the constant scrutiny and criticism.

Notebook

‘Best car’ doesn’t win: Kyle Busch tied for the most laps led and won two of the five segments of the all-star race but came away with a third-place finish.

“We definitely had the best car here,” Busch said. “Just didn't quite get the best pit stop there at the end to get us out on the front row. Then when you're back behind cars, you're getting beat up on.

“It is what it is. We'll just take this -- good learning day.

Final pit stop slows Kurt Busch: Like his brother, Kurt Busch also won two segments of the all-star race and led 29 laps. He also entered the final pit stop first on pit road but came out fifth, where he finished in the race.

“Our four-segment average guaranteed us coming down pit road first for the final stop, but it didn't guarantee us leaving pit road first,” said Busch. “We were one tick slow on our pit stop and one tick off on the chassis adjustment. That was the difference.

“You have to be perfect to win this race. We weren’t.”

McMurray best of transfers:,/b> Of the three drivers who transferred into the main event, Jamie McMurray performed best, ending up eighth.

McMurray won the 40-lap Sprint Showdown and he and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished second in the Showdown, advanced to the all-star race. Danica Patrick advanced through the Sprint Fan Vote.

“I think if we ever could have gotten to the front, probably like most people, our car was extremely fast,” McMurray said. “It’s just really tough in traffic, but overall we had a good car.”

5 key moments

1 . Jamie McMurray wins the Sprint Showdown and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishes second, so both transferred into the all-star field. Danica Patrick, as winner of the fan vote, joined them.

2 . Rain brought an abrupt halt to the first segment of the all-star race with Kurt Busch in the lead on Lap 13. The race was restarted more than 40 minutes later.

3. Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch dominated the first four segments, each winning two of them and each leading 29 laps.

4. The entry on pit road for the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the final 10-lap segment was set by the average finishing order of the first four segments. Kurt Busch entered first but came out fifth. Kasey Kahne led on the final restart followed by Jimmie Johnson.

5. Johnson quickly got around Kahne on the restart on Lap 91. Johnson then held off a fast-approaching Joey Logano for the win.

Next race

Coca-Cola 600

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Performance Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Kasey Kahne

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