CONCORD Here’s some math most NASCAR fans can understand.
Jimmie Johnson has five Sprint Cup Series championships, six Cup series points wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway – tied for the most all-time – and Saturday night won his NASCAR-record fourth Sprint All-Star Race at the track.
What’s all that add up to?
The answer: A lot of wins, a lot of money and unfortunately, some controversy.
Johnson passed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on the first lap of the final 10-lap segment of Saturday night’s all-star event and held off Joey Logano to secure the $1 million first prize.
Not yet a third of the way through the 2013 season, Johnson has two Cup wins, a victory in the all-star race and has accumulated more than $4.3 million in race winnings.
“To beat Jeff (Gordon) and (Dale) Earnhardt (Sr.), two guys that I’ve looked up to my whole life and two massive icons of our sport, this means the world to me,” Johnson said of his fourth all-star victory and second consecutive.
“I really didn’t think we had a shot at winning, starting 18th. But we had a great race car and worked our way through there and got the job done.”
Johnson also became just the second driver to win back-to-back All-Star events; the first was Davey Allison in 1991 and 1992.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished, but we know we’ve got to keep pushing harder and keep pushing one another and we did it again here,” Johnson said.
“I don’t know how we keep doing it.”
Johnson did it, in part, by having one of the top four average finishes through the first four 20-lap segments. The average finish was a new addition to the all-star rules this season and determined the order drivers entered pit road for their final four-time pit stop.
Johnson entered fourth and came out second, behind Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne. Kurt Busch went down pit road the leader but came out fifth.
On the first lap of the final 10-lap segment, Johnson got around Kahne for the lead and never looked back.
“I would say my pit crew did a great job of getting us out first. I was a little tight the run before and we didn’t have time to fix it because we wanted to get out first,” Kahne said.
“Jimmie just stayed right there with me. I couldn’t get rid of him and then he beat me off the corner and into (Turn) 3 and kind of on exit and it was over after that.”
Kyle Busch finished third in the race, Kahne was fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth.
With the win in hand, Johnson’s celebration began and so did the controversy.
Speed Channel, which aired the race, had put up a graphic of the drivers’ average finishes before the start of pit stops, but its list was filled with incorrect information. In fact, it didn’t even have Johnson listed in the Top-10.
So, when TV viewers saw Johnson head down pit road in fourth, social media lit up with accusations from race fans that Johnson somehow cheated the system.
The arguments over the average finish calculations raged well into the night.
Told of the confusion after the race, Johnson was asked why he typically finds himself the center of such firestorms.
“I don’t have the slightest clue. People just want to hate. That's fine,” Johnson said, taking a sarcastic tone.
“I’m just lucky. NASCAR rigs the races and whatever they want to believe. I’m going home with a cool trophy and a big check and we all really know what happened.”
Earlier in the night, Jamie McMurray led all 40 laps of the Sprint Showdown and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second as both transferred into the all-star field.
The final entry in the main event was Danica Patrick, who entered as winner of the Sprint Fan Vote.