As fireworks illuminate the sky, Carl Edwards destroyed the No. 99 while spinning through the infield grass in pure excitement. His back flip and jubilant celebration landed a perfect 10. As Edwards is the eighth different driver to win the All-Star race in recent years. To celebrate the win, Edwards climbed into the grandstands to celebrate as his Aflac Ford Fusion sat idle in the grass. It was officially a checkers or wreckers moment for Edwards who couldn’t contain his excitement.
[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Edwards’s machine struck a man-hole in the front-lawn destroying the machine. This is Edwards’s first win in the All-Star race. In an impromptu victory lane due to the car’s post-race condition, Edwards exclaimed ‘We just won a million dollars! It’s unbelievable!” And while the team celebrates Jack Roush offered Edwards a chance to work on the car, after all “anytime you have grass on the windshield after the race it’s not good.” Edwards said. He will also be declining Roush’s offer as he heads to Iowa to compete in Sunday’s Nationwide race.
Kyle Busch came home in second place and flat out admits the team just got beat. “There at the end, we just ran out of time,” he said with grin. When asked how frustrating second place would be, he reminded the media that this high-powered weapon will be his back-up arsenal in next week’s 600 mile gunfight.
David Reutimann finished third, after his pit crew performed extraordinarily well on that final stop. Smiling from ear to ear, in post race interviews Reutimann said “We didn’t start very good, we just kept plugging away on it. The deciding factor was that last pitstop.” Credit was given to the Toyota team for their strong performance.
Ford dominated the All-Star event, and became the only winning manufacture racing under the lights Saturday night.
In the first 50-lap segment, Greg Biffle took the lead from resident Bad Boy and polesitter Kyle Busch on lap four. Biffle’s Roush Fenway Ford was joined at the front of the field with teammate Carl Edwards. Following lap 25, teams were required to make a green-flag pitstop vetting the pit crews against each other once again. A few adjustments, a change of tires and some gasoline and just as quickly the cars returned to the track in an almost identical order.
The remainder of the first segment went without incident. Biffle led 46 laps and earned $25,000 at the segments conclusion. Kurt Busch, while complaining about his cars handling earned the lucky dog position. Pit strategy under caution placed Carl Edwards at the front of the field with Kasey Kahne to the outside.
On the move was RFR teammate David Ragan, who transferred in from the Showdown. The first caution for an on-track incident flew when Kasey Kahne struck the wall in turn one. Another round of pit stops saw only the back half of the field hit pit road.
Back to green, Jimmie Johnson lined up to the inside of Edwards in his No. 5 machine celebrating the Lowe’s promotion of an everyday 5% discount for cardholder’s. And just like that, Johnson led the field at a track where he had great success. But Edwards wasn’t allowing Johnson to steal his thunder. He charged back to the front and reclaimed the top spot at the end of the second segment.
Ready for the third race segment, another 20-laps, Edwards, who did not pit will lead the field to the green with Kyle Busch to his outside. ‘Big Daddy’ Jeff Gordon was in third while Biffle held down fourth.
Kyle ‘Rowdy’ Busch jumped out front, while Edwards fell to third. Gordon claimed second place temporarily. Reagan Smith delivered a crowd pleasing spin to bring out the caution. His No. 78 machine went high on the track, and spun downward. He did not collect any others cars, but kissed the inside wall ever so slightly. This was Smith’s first appearance in the All-Star event.
With $125,000 to the winner of the third segment on the table, Busch lined up with three-time All-Star winner Jeff Gordon to his outside. With only 12 laps remaining in the third segment, Busch pulled away from the field while Gordon backed up. Tony Stewart brought his Burger King Chevrolet into the top 5.
Carl Edwards powered his way to the inside of Busch and took the lead without question. Edwards would lead Busch through the end of the third segment. After a 10-minute break, the final segment showcased the pit crew talents. A mandatory four-tire stop determined the final line-up for a 10-lap dash to the cash. Out of the pits, Edwards retained the top spot, followed by Busch, Biffle, Matt Kenseth and David Reutimann. With three Fords in the top five, it is important to note that the Showdown winner, David Ragan held court and restarted 11th.
The final ten laps were run caution-free. As a win continues to elude Joe Gibbs Racing in this event, Kyle Busch brought home a respectable runner-up finish. David Reutimann driving for Michael Waltrip Racing found himself in third. Tony Stewart finishes fourth and lap leader Greg Biffle finished out the top-five.
Finishing inside the top-ten were Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Showdown winner David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.
Unofficial Race Results
May 21, 2011 | Exhibition
1 Carl Edwards
2 Kyle Busch
3 David Reutimann
4 Tony Stewart
5 Greg Biffle
6 Matt Kenseth
7 Denny Hamlin
8 David Ragan
9 Kevin Harvick
10 Ryan Newman
11 Jimmie Johnson
12 Juan Montoya
13 Kurt Busch
14 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15 Jeff Gordon
16 Clint Bowyer
17 Jamie McMurray
18 Brad Keselowski
19 Mark Martin
20 Regan Smith
21 Kasey Kahne