Carl Edwards wins $1.2 million with All-Star victory
by Matt Taliaferro
The 2011 Sprint All-Star Race certainly wasn’t as dramatic as past editions. The conclusion was no where near as exciting — or destructive — as 1992’s “One Hot Night;” there was no race-defining moment, like Dale Earnhardt’s “pass in the grass” in ’87, and tempers didn’t flare as they did in ’89 when Rusty Wallace used the “spin to win” method of getting by Darrell Waltrip with a handful of laps remaining.
But as Earnhardt once said, “It pays more to win.” And that’s all Carl Edwards cared about. Edwards and his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team put on a clinic Saturday evening, leading 29 laps — including every one of the final 10-lap shootout — to collect a race-record $1.2 million and a Sprint All-Star Race trophy at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“You have to remember, you’re not always going to have side-by-side, three-wide finishes,” Edwards, who earned his first All-Star Race win, said. “I think that tonight our car was superior. It ended up being a race that we were able to pull away from (the field). But one little thing being different, one different bump-stop combination, track bar height, tire pressure thing (and) it could have been a much different race.
“I believe, as much as we ended up winning the race by, I think that’s a rarity in this event. I think with a 10-lap shootout at the end, four fresh tires, nine out of 10 times it’s going to be a much closer finish. I know I was really nervous about that last run. I did not feel like we had it in the bag by any means. So it just so happened to turn out that way.”
Edwards led the final four laps of the third 20-lap segment, which preceded a mandatory four-tire pit stop. Crew chief Bob Osborne’s over-the-wall gang held serve during the stop, getting the No. 99 out ahead of Kyle Busch, and his driver pulled away from there to win by .443 seconds.
Busch held on for second, while David Reutimann and Tony Stewart finished third and fourth. Edwards’ teammate, Greg Biffle, who led a race-high 46 laps — all in the first 50-lap segment — was fifth.
“From my vantage point, it was kind of a tame race today,” Busch said. “I don't know what that one caution was for, but I think there was only one or two interruptions besides the normal cautions that we have in this race. Sorry, we didn’t give you any scoop or drama.”
The only real drama, from a “smash ’em up” perspective, came post-race, when Edwards slid his car through the infield grass. His front splitter caught in the sod and tore the nose clip off the Ford.
“I think some people would like to think that I’m smart enough and savvy enough to come up with some (illegal) trick and destroy (the car) like that and make it look like an accident,” Edwards said. “We’re not that smart — I really did just tear up the racecar.”
Earlier in the evening, another Roush ride went to Victory Lane, when David Ragan won the Sprint Showdown, a qualifying race for the 27 cars not in the All-Star event. Ragan slide by Brad Keselowski with two laps remaining in the 40 lapper. Keselowski also transferred into the main event, as the top two finishers moved on. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the fan vote, and therefore rounded out the 21-car field for the All-Star Race. He finished a disappointing 14th.