Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jimmie Johnson wins the 2012 All-Star Race to cap off a winning week for the No. 48 team


Jimmie Johnson hoists the $1 million dollar check
in victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
What would you do for a million dollars?

The answer to that question now is left for Jimmie Johnson to decide after winning the 2012 All-Star Race. The win caps off a week of wins for Johnson and the No. 48 team, starting last week at Darlington, continuing on to the Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday night and concluding with tonight's victory. 

For those who counted out the 48 team earlier this season, don't, they are on a hot streak. 

Segment 1: Winner Jimmie Johnson

Kyle Busch led the field to the green for the 2012 running of the Sprint All-Star Race and managed to lead the first 16 laps until being passed by Jimmie Johnson.

Kevin Harvick found trouble and a damaged race car after contact with teammate Paul Menard. Harvick slapped the wall and was forced to make multiple pit stops for repairs. The repairs and pit stops were worth it, the team was able to salvage a sixth place finish.

Segment 2: Winner Matt Kenseth

Denny Hamlin started segment 2 in the lead after pit stops following the conclusion of segment 1. Starting behind Hamlin; Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Marcos Ambrose was challenging for the lead but Hamlin was able to hold him off.

Carl Edwards was the first caution of the evening as the No. 99 blew up on Lap 25, ending the chance at back-to-back All-Star victories.

Just laps after Edwards caution, Trevor Bayne smacked the wall but was able to continue and no caution flag was thrown.

Segment 3: Winner Brad Keselowski

Pit strategy played a part in the start of segment three, 9 drivers stayed out and Brad Keselowski led the field to the green flag for another 20 laps.

The battle was behind Keselowski for most of the segment, until the very end in what was perhaps the most exciting moment of the race. Just barely edging Kasey Kahne to the line, Keselowski was able to score the segment victory and also the added incentive in the final round.

Segment 4: Winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The crowd roared, why you may be asking? Dale Earnhardt Jr. went to the lead and single handedly dominated the segment.

Action was slowed at Lap 69 for another blown Roush engine, this time Greg Biffle’s engine let go and ignited in a fire ball. Biffle safely climbed from the car and would finish the race in 22nd, just one position ahead of Edwards and the only two cars out of the race.

Segment 5: Winner Jimmie Johnson

The final 10-laps make drivers, crew chiefs and even fans nervous considering the moniker for the race is “checkers or wreckers,” no wreckers were needed during the final shootout. Calmer heads prevailed…well more like Johnson was just that good!

With his win in tonight’s race, Johnson’s All-Star victories now tally at three with victories in 2003 and 2006, tying him with HMS teammate Jeff Gordon. The win also ties Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon for most NASCAR All-Star Race victories all-time.

"It means a ton to me," Johnson said when asked on this milestone moment. "Those are two of the greatest drivers that have ever been in a stock car, I wanna set my goals high and be considered one of the best to sit in a stock car and the only way you do that is by winning big races and piling up those stats."

Barely hanging on, Mr. Hendrick takes a victory ride on the track.
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
Memorable moment: 

As Johnson celebrated his race win, team owner Rick Hendrick radioed to him to pick him up for a ride. Hendrick climbed part-way into the window of the No. 48 car, one leg dangling out, as Johnson drove him down the frontstretch for a victory celebration.

"That was the dumbest thing I have ever done," Hendrick said on his celebratory lap. "When I climbed in I got my foot hung in the dash and my knee pinned where he couldn't get to the clutch, I thought I was going to be like a busted watermelon out here," Hendrick said as the room filled with chuckles. Johnson interjected, "You did say come get me, I did what you said!"  Like I said, it was the dumbest thing I ever done,” Hendrick repeated.

To relive the magic of Johnson’s victory, tune into SPEED’s Inside the Headset tomorrow at 9 pm EST.

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