Jimmie Becomes NASCAR’s All-Time All-Star
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Entering Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Jimmie Johnson wasn’t sure about his chances in the event due to an 18th-place qualifying run, but when the checkered flag waved the California native had once again rewritten a page in the NASCAR record book.
With an 11-second pit stop by his crew and a flawless 10-lap segment, Johnson became the first driver to win the non-points event four times, breaking a tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. He also became the second driver to emerge victorious in the special event two consecutive years. The first driver to accomplish the feat was Davey Allison, who won the event in 1991-92.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I still feel like there’s a lot left I can do in this sport, and I’ll work hard to do that,” said Johnson, who now has won the All-Star race under four different formats. When I’m old and sit in a rocking chair, hopefully, people think highly of what I’ve done and give me a tip of the hat.”
Johnson’s concern about his ability to pull off another All-Star victory centered on the order the drivers would be in when they entered pit road for the required four-tire pit stop before the final segment. The order of entry was determined by a driver’s average finish in the first four segments. Johnson explained that in order to have a chance at victory, he knew he needed to start in one of the top four positions for the final 10-lap segment. Starting the race at the back of the field, Johnson was concerned about the average finish he could obtain.
“I knew I wouldn’t have a shot at the front row unless I really made something happen in the first segment, and I had trouble early in the first segment,” Johnson said. “Brad (Keselowski) had an issue in front of us and it was tough to get by guys. (Crew chief) Chad’s (Knaus) strategy at different times to have us on better tires than some cars that were around us, we were able to keep clicking away at good finishes through the second, third and fourth segment.”
While Knaus’ strategy was in play, the Busch brothers were dominating the event. Kurt Busch won the first segment, Kyle the second and third, and Kurt the fourth. Kyle Busch had the best average finish of 2.2, while Kurt owned a 3.7. Third best was Kasey Kahne at 5.7. Johnson possessed a 6.5 average finish, which was fourth best.
However, the graphics shown on the SPEED telecast didn’t have Johnson in the top 10 and a firestorm ranged on Twitter after the event about the position given Johnson. Two of the event’s booth announcers, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, admitted on Twitter the telecast’s graphics were incorrect. In his post-race interview, Knaus said he knew Johnson’s average finish before NASCAR did. Johnson wasn’t fazed by the issue and blew off the controversy.
“People just want to hate. That’s fine,” Johnson said. “I’m going home with a cool trophy and a big check and we all really know what happened. So, whatever.”
– Deb Williams can be reached at email@example.com Comments