CP MOTORSPORTS - HAMLIN FENDS OFF ALL CHALLENGES TO WIN SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE
Denny Hamlin won Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite late race challenges from Stewart-Haas Racing teammates and front row mainstays Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.
The victory was not only Hamlin's first All-Star Race win, but also the first time Joe Gibbs Racing has ever won the annual non-points paying event.
"You want to win the Daytona 500," Hamlin said. "You want to win the Brickyard 400. You want to win the Coke 600. You want to be an All-Star. It's just an unbelievable experience."
At one point in the race's final ten lap segment, Harvick pulled to the back bumper of Hamlin but was not able to challenge for the lead. Harvick was forced to settle for a second-place finish.
"I'm not frustrated," Harvick said. "I've been on the other side of this deal and our days where we have something go wrong, the recovery from starting last and having a chance to win the race today. That was a recovery day - a day that goes smooth and hopefully you can win the race. It's been a great start, and I feel like we're competitive every week."
Kurt Busch won the race's fourth segment but finished in third place. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.
With the power of an efficient pit crew, Hamlin was able to win the race, as well as qualify on the pole. The Sprint All-Star Race's qualifying format makes teams run four laps as well as change four tires with time elapsed being the deciding factor.
Hamlin believes pit road was the deciding factor in the win.
"I mean, that's all there is to it," Hamlin said. "My pit crew just did an amazing job. I don't know what the time of the pit stop was, but it was fast as I've seen all year and, obviously, that number one pit stall helped us. If we had to get up to speed, we were probably going to come out third or so, but being right there by that camera line, it allowed us to come out first. I knew it was fast when they went over the left side, so, gosh, these guys have been with me for so long and they switched over teams with me with Dave Rogers, so it means so much to me to be a part of that and win it with them."
Brad Keselowski, winner in two of the race's five segments, had his chance for the $1 million dollar prize slip away on the same pit stop which propelled Hamlin to victory. Keselowski entered pit road first but penalized by NASCAR for speeding in trying to beat Hamlin off of pit road.
Keselowski, who salvaged a ninth place finish, believed beating Hamlin off pit road was the only option for victory.
"Whoever gets the clean air with this format and this rules package is going to drive away," Keselowski said. "We've seen that for the last three years and with this particular car it's probably even more so. I thought the #41 and the #4 were probably two or three tenths faster than everybody without clean air, and it doesn't matter. I knew when I came out of my pit stall, and the #11 was pulling out with me that I either beat him to the line or lose the race.
"On the penalty, I was three-tenths of a mile an hour over the speed limit, but I told my crew chief I'd rather go down swinging than take a strike and wonder what might have been. I swung and missed."
Saturday night's race also saw the return of Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who had missed every point-earning race this season following injuries suffered during Daytona's Xfinity race. Despite a pit road speeding penalty, Busch returned to form with a sixth place finish.
"I'll be sore for a couple of days," Busch admitted. "There's just muscles that haven't been woken up like this in a little while. It's nothing new. Typically I get that in the beginning of the year anyway. It takes a few weeks to kind of get warmed up to things, your body to kind of settle in. Being out of the race car the longest I've ever been in my career, it's a wake-up call for myself to get back rolling."
NASCAR announced after the race their officials are investigating a possible rules violation during the Sprint All-Star Race Saturday night related to Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 team. The investigation focuses on an alleged modified side skirt to their Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during the race.
Johnson struggled with the handle throughout the race and finished in 15th place.
Unofficial Race Results for the 31St Annual Nascar Sprint All-Star Race
- Friday, May 15, 2015
Charlotte Motor Speedway - Concord, NC - 1.5 Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 110 Laps - 165 Miles - Purse: $3,150,588
Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Driver Rating Winnings Status Tms Laps
1 1 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 110 114.2 $1,045,009 Running 3 26
2 20 4 Kevin Harvick Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet 110 109.1 $249,784 Running
3 16 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 110 129.0 $149,735 Running 2 24
4 9 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet 110 93.7 $119,705 Running
5 17 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 110 78.9 $114,705 Running
6 19 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Red Nose Day Toyota 110 69.9 $108,705 Running
7 5 5 Kasey Kahne Time Warner Cable Chevrolet 110 105.6 $102,555 Running 1 11
8 11 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 110 80.4 $101,555 Running
9 3 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 110 111.0 $100,555 Running 2 49
10 7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mountain Dew Baja Blast Chevrolet 110 64.9 $99,555 Running
11 13 47 AJ Allmendinger Kingsford Chevrolet 110 59.5 $98,530 Running
12 4 15 Clint Bowyer Cherry5HrEnergy/SpecialOprtnWarriorFndtn Toyota 110 61.0 $97,530 Running
13 2 16 Greg Biffle Ortho Ford 110 43.3 $96,530 Running
14 8 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 110 31.7 $96,030 Running
15 12 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet 110 59.7 $95,430 Running
16 14 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 110 41.9 $95,155 Running
17 10 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 110 45.4 $95,030 Running
18 18 31 Ryan Newman Cat/Quicken Loans Chevrolet 110 30.8 $94,930 Running
19 15 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Arctic Cat Chevrolet 110 34.1 $94,830 Running
20 6 10 Danica Patrick Mobil 1/Aspen Dental Chevrolet 78 30.0 $94,730 Running
Race Comments: Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, his first win in the annual non-points race. Prior to the start of the race, the following car dropped to the rear of the field for the reason indicated: No. 10 (engine change).
Failed to Qualify: N/A
Time of Race: 01 Hrs, 33 Mins, 00 Secs. Average Speed: 106.452 MPH Margin of Victory: 0.923 Seconds
Caution Flags: 4 for 0 laps: Laps: 25-25 (Competition [None]); 50-50 (Competition [None]); 75-75 (Competition ); 100-100 (Competition ).
Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers: D. Hamlin 1-14; K. Kahne 15-25; B. Keselowski 26-32; Kurt Busch 33; B. Keselowski 34-75; D. Hamlin 76-77; Kurt Busch 78-100; D. Hamlin 101-110.
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race: May. 16, 2015 - Charlotte Motor Speedway
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