Jimmie Johnson became the first driver to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race four times on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion, passed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, after the final restart with 10 laps remaining. He was untouchable from there, beating his closest competitor, Joey Logano, to the finish line by 1.7 seconds. Johnson had been tied with Dale Earnhardt and teammate Jeff Gordon for most wins in the all-star race with three. His previous victories came in 2003, '06 and last year.
"To beat Jeff and Earnhardt, two guys that I looked up to my whole life and two massive icons of our sport, this means the world to me," said Johnson, who collected $1,039,175 for his victory.
Johnson started the race in 18th due to a mishap during his mandatory four- tire pit stop in Friday's qualifying. He overshot his pit box and then received a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.
When the fourth segment had concluded after 80 laps, Johnson was the fourth driver onto pit road. Johnson's No. 48 team gave him a quick enough stop to get him out of the pits in second, closely behind Kahne.
"I really didn't think we had a shot at winning tonight, but we had a great car and worked our way through there and got the job done," he said.
Johnson joined Davey Allison as the only drivers to win the all-star race in consecutive years. Allison won this event in 1991 and '92.
In addition to his five series titles, Johnson has won the Daytona 500 twice, including a victory in this year's season-opener. He collected $1,525,275 for winning the 2013 Daytona 500. Johnson is the current points leader, taking a 44-point advantage into next weekend's 600-mile race at Charlotte.
"Over time, honestly, it's just dedication and drive from every member at Hendrick Motorsports and every member on this 48 team," he said. "We're very proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished, but we know we have to keep pushing harder and keep pushing one another. We did it here again tonight. I don't know how we keep doing it, but I'm proud of this race team."
Kyle Busch, who led 29 of 90 laps, finished third, while Kahne faded at the end to place fourth.
"We probably had the best car here tonight but just didn't get the best pit stop there at the end to get us out on the front row," said Busch, who has finished no worse than fourth in the past three all-star races. "When you're back behind cars, you're getting beat up on."
His elder brother, Kurt Busch, also led a total of 29 laps and was the first driver onto pit road for the mandatory four-tire stop after the conclusion of the fourth segment. The first four segments were 20 laps each, followed by the 10-lap shootout to the finish. Busch had a slow pit stop that put him back to fifth for the last restart. He held the lead at the completions of the first and fourth segments.
Busch, who is in his first full season as driver of the No. 78 car for Furniture Row Racing, finished fifth. Last weekend at Darlington Raceway, he started on the pole and led 69 laps in the early part of the Southern 500.
"To win some segments and to be in position with the all-star race the way it is, it just shows the true strength of this team, even though we're only running 20 laps at a time, but it still makes you feel proud to race for these guys," Busch said.
Denny Hamlin finished sixth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray, who advanced into the all-star race by placing first in the Sprint Showdown (40-lap preliminary event). Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, the pole sitter, completed the top-10.
Danica Patrick was the last driver to finish on the lead lap in 20th. After finishing ninth in the Showdown, Patrick won the fan vote to give her the 22nd and final starting position. She became the first female competitor in the 29- year history of the all-star race.
Her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., also a rookie in the series this year, finished 16th in his first appearance in this race. Stenhouse earned a starting spot based on his second-place finish in the Showdown.
The all-star race was stopped for 41 minutes during the first 20-lap segment due to rain. It had rained at this 1.5-mile racetrack earlier in the day, creating a delay in the start of the Showdown.