Carl Edwards celebrates his All-Star victory with his traditional back flip
Two out of three ain't bad. However, when the one that disappoints is the main event for the weekend, maybe it is.
But for all the excitement that was missing in Saturday night's NASCAR All-Star Race, the Nationwide and Camping World series races made up for it with a first-time winner and a stellar debut by a former Formula One world champion.
Sprint Cup Series
Carl Edwards' only mistake Saturday night came as he tried to celebrate after his win in the Sprint All-Star Race.
But the boys back at the Roush-Fenway Racing shop will gladly trade having to repair the front-end damage the car suffered after getting stuck in the sod for the $1 million paycheck Edwards collected.
Edwards dominated in his Aflac Ford Fusion, winning three of four segments in the race that was billed as a Wild West shootout.
Unfortunately, the race failed to live up to the hype, and Edwards walked away with a win in what was one of the least memorable All-Star races in recent history.
Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. Roush teammates Matt Kenseth and David Ragan finished sixth and eighth respectively to land all four Roush cars in the top eight.
Earlier in the evening in the Sprint Showdown that provided the final qualifiers for the All-Star race, Ragan pulled away from Brad Keselowski in the final laps to grab the win and give Jack Roush the All-Star sweep.
And in what should be a shock to no one, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Sprint fan vote winner and also advanced to the main event, where he finished 14th and never threatened to contend.
It only took 12 races for a Nationwide regular to win a race in 2011—and this was not a fluke either.
With Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch both in the field, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pulled out his first career NASCAR win as he took the checkered flag of the John Deere Dealers 250 in Iowa on Sunday.
"I think it feels good for the Nationwide guys. I don't think we're the only Nationwide regular that's going to win a race this year," said Stenhouse. "To be that first one it feels good. I feel like since we got that first one out of the way, hopefully the next few will be a little easier."
Stenhouse passed teammate Edwards with 18 laps to go and held on for the win in front a packed house at the Iowa Speedway.
Edwards and Busch had won eight of the previous 11 Nationwide races this season.
Camping World Truck Series
On Friday night, the Iceman came to NASCAR—and he did not disappoint.
After rather unspectacular practice and qualifying sessions earlier in the day, Kimi Raikkonen showed off the talent that laid claim to the 2007 Formula One world championship to finish 15th in the caution-plagued North Carolina Education Lottery 200 won by Kyle Busch at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Just five laps into the race, it looked like it would be a long night for the 31-year-old Finn when he scrubbed the wall coming off turn four. Then on the second restart, he was warned by NASCAR to refrain from passing before the start-finish line on restarts.
But Raikkonen settled in during one of the few long green flag runs early in the race and was able to move up the running order.
Raikkonen even overcame some pit road mishaps when he accidentally stayed out under caution while others pitted and found himself in sixth place at one point in the early stages of the race.
Later, just one lap before he was to pit under green on lap 51, Raikkonen's truck owner—and eventual race winner—Kyle Busch spun out exiting turn four, bringing out a caution and providing Raikkonen the opportunity to pit under yellow and remain on the lead lap.
The rest of the night was fairly uneventful for Raikkonen—with the exception of dodging wrecked trucks.
A record-tying 10 cautions kept the field from getting strung out and actually worked to Kimi’s advantage. Spins by Timothy Peters, Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine and wrecks by Matt Crafton, Max Papis and Brendan Gaughan contributed to the sheet metal carnage. But Raikkonen missed them all.
In the end, Raikkonen never lost the lead lap, had no penalties on pit road, made several green flag passes and finished his debut race in the top 15.
Not a bad start for someone who had never raced a stock car and flew in from Europe just a day before the race.