CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson ran the first 20 laps and the final 10 laps of Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race as hard as he could. In the middle, he coasted for 60 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus played the rules perfectly by winning the first segment to gain the pole position for the 10-lapper worth $1 million.
Once he was guaranteed track position for the sprint, he spent three different 20-lap segments running a half lap behind everyone else – and far behind any possible trouble.
The speed and strategy was unbeatable.
Johnson started first for the final 10 laps. By the time he got to the first turn after the restart, he was already pulling away.
Brad Keselowski finished a distant second.
The race was open to race winners from the 2011 and 2012 seasons, as well as former series and All-Star winners from the past 10 years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and AJ Allmendinger advanced by finishing one-two in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race. Bobby Labonte got the last spot on the started grid when he was voted in by the fans.
The race was broken into four 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap run.
The four segment winners were allowed to enter pit road first before the final segment. Everyone was required to stop before the final sprint, but drivers could merely stop and go to gain track position over those who changed tires.
Johnson easily won the first segment by nearly 50 yards, Matt Kenseth took the second, Keselowski claimed the third and Earnhardt captured the fourth.