Sprint All-Star Race: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst IMay 16, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 16:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 16, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR All-Star Race is not about points, it’s about pride and $1 million. Drivers go for it all and that’s why the All-Star Race is some of the best racing all year. Check out the Sprint All-Star Race winners and losers special edition.

Winners

Sprint Showdown

Sam Hornish Jr.

In 2008, Hornish Jr. started eighth and raced his way into the All-Star Race by finishing second. Fast forward to 2009, he started eighth and raced his way to the front and won the Showdown. 

At some point he would like to not have to race the showdown and automatically be in the All-Star Race by winning a points paying event.

He finished the All-Star Race in 16th, a not so spectacular run.

 

Jamie McMurray

McMurray has had some tough luck so far this season coming into this weekend they knew they needed to win their way in.

McMurray moved forward fast and claimed the second and final showdown spot that transferred into the All-Star Race.

McMurray finished ninth in the All-Star Race, a strong run for this team.

 

Joey Logano

The last couple weeks have been fairly kind to Logano. He survived Talladega, and tamed the "Lady in Black" with strong finishes. He couldn’t race his way into the All-Star Race, having to pit to clear his windshield from oil forced him to battle back.

He did however win the fan vote—something his predecessor Tony Stewart did in 1999—and finished second. Logano hoped to do one better.

 

Losers

Usually I would have some drivers listed here, but this weekend this race is different.  There is no right strategy with the showdown. So nobody is a loser this week in the showdown.

 

Sprint All-Star Race

Winners

Tony Stewart

It may not pay points, but this was a hard fought win and a well deserved win. Stewart won for the first time as a team owner. With two laps to go, Stewart passed Matt Kenseth and pulled away from the field.

It was only a matter of time before he won. When Smoke gets hot, it's bad news for the competition.

Congrats Stewart and Stewart Haas Racing on your first win!!

 

Matt Kenseth

You could hear the disappointment; I mean I am not surprised, it was for $1 million. Kenseth looked good on the longs runs, but struggled on the short runs, and the final 10 laps were short runs with multiple cautions.

His finish of second is a good sign for this team, but when $1 million is on the line, anything other than first is a disappointment.

Kenseth should be strong come next week in the 600. He has run well on the intermediates this year. Expect to see him up front next weekend.

 

Joey Logano

Sure I could have picked about five other drivers before Logano, but he was voted into the race by the fans and for a rookie in his first All-Star Race he came home with a decent eighth-place win.

This strong finish will help them next week on a track he hasn’t run many times.
Logano is slowly finding comfort with this car and being on track tonight will pay dividends next week.

 

Everyone who turned a lap

Sounds kind of strange right? But with no testing this season, these races gave every driver a chance to collect some data for next Sunday's Coca Cola 600.

It was a test session—you could use the data you learned in the short feature to try on your car during practice and the race next week.

Every driver who ran Saturday night has an advantage over those who did not enter a car, or were not eligible.

 

Losers
Jeff Gordon

Gordon almost pulled away on the 10-lap shootout, but then Jimmie Johnson has a problem and brings out a caution. On the second restart, Gordon was unable to pull away and got three-wide with a surging Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch.

Gordon spun out and hit the wall and finished 19th.

Luckily for Gordon, no points were on the line, so now they can take the data they learned tonight and hopefully translate for next weekend’s race.

Gordon didn't seem too upset after watching $1 million go out from under him, but he knows that next Sunday is when it counts and points will be king.

 

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson looked good early and led early. He fell off sequence and had to battle back from mid-pack.

With clean air, King Johnson was unable to maneuver back to the front. He tagged the wall before the final break and suffered some cosmetic damage.

Johnson then brought out the caution during the 10-lap shootout and was never able to rebound in the short run, finishing 13th.

Lowes is still Johnson house; but for how long?

 

Greg Biffle

He came in as an early favorite, but was never a factor. Biffle struggled all night long and finished well off the lead lap in 21st. It was a disappointing run for this team who was expected to contend tonight.

Let’s hope they can forget tonight and start over come this weekend, otherwise Sunday will be a long night!

 

Final Lap…

With so much talk this week about Jeremy Mayfield and what drivers can and cannot take with regards to the random drug testing, Stewart's win was a welcome story that will at least give us something good to talk about.

2009 so far has been about drivers who haven’t won in awhile (Kenseth, Gordon, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin) finding victory circle, and tonight was no different with Stewart's first time win as an owner.

Hendrick Motorsports still dominated this race, whether it was Johnson or Gordon or Hendrick affiliate Stewart Haas Racing with winner Tony Stewart.

I like the All-Star Race because it’s about us fans and some good racing. I liked the format.

They could eliminate the multiple breaks that they have, turning it into something like this: 50-40-10.

Having to stop every 20 laps killed what momentum you had. But overall the format worked and the racing was entertaining.

 

Race Grade: B+

I could give it an A, but like I said before there were too many breaks that killed some driver’s momentum or the rhythm of the race.

On to the Coca Cola 600, one of my other favorite races, I like long races; it means strategy will be key and surviving to half way.

See you next week!