The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was set up just like the Driver’s Council wanted. There was just one problem though.
Not many people understood how it worked … not the drivers, not the teams, not the media and especially not the fans.
It worked well for a majority of the first 50-lap segment, but no one expected Matt Kenseth to miss out on his opportunity to take a mandatory pit stop. And that’s when the confusion took off like a shuttle trying to gain enough speed to enter orbit.
No one was sure what was happening and no one was quite sure what was supposed to happen. In the end, the racing was top-notch and thrilling.
And that’s not limited to just the All-Star event. The Sprint Showdown was just as exciting with Kyle Larson, Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne and Chase Elliott banging on each other as they battled for position and the top two spots that would earn them spots in the All-Star Race.
Since Bayne, Biffle and Larson each won one of three segments of the Sprint Showdown, they all earned entry into the main event. Elliott finished first in fan voting and transferred into the All-Star Race.
With the three Showdown segment winners and the winner of the fan vote, the field size was 19, one less than the event’s minimum. Therefore, the driver with the second-most votes in the fan vote also made the starting field — Danica Patrick.
The other 15 drivers in this year’s event earned their spot by meeting one or more of the following requirements: won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race during the 2015 or 2016 season, be a previous winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race or be a past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Carl Edwards and Kyle Larson won the first two segments of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Several laps before Segment 2’s 50 laps expired, Larson, driving the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, took over the point from Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion. Larson held the lead at the mandatory break between Segment 2 and the 13-lap Segment 3, which was a final sprint to the finish line.
With two laps to go and Joey Logano hot on his tail, Larson’s car bounced off the outer wall in Turn 2 and fell all the way back to 16th. Logano, driving the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion, took over the lead and raced to the checkered flag, beating out his Team Penske teammate, Keselowski, by 1.142 seconds. The win was the first for Logano in the event and third for Team Penske.
The starting field included Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Keselowski, Elliott, Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Bayne, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Larson, Patrick and Biffle.
If you’re curious to see where Logano, Keselowski, Larson and all these other drivers landed in Lionel Racing’s most recent Power 10 rankings, look no further.
Let us know what you think and who you have in your top 10.
(Note: Only the 10 drivers receiving the highest average rankings are shown. The number of spots they’ve moved since the previous rankings are shown in the parentheses.)
1. Kevin Harvick (–): Kevin remains firm in the No. 1 spot after a leading 21 laps in the All-Star Race and a 11th-place finish.
2. Kyle Busch (–): All is quiet at the top of the rankings with Kyle also standing pat since last week’s top 10. A 10th-place showing probably helped.
3. Joey Logano (NR): One week after Chase Elliott shot up the charts from unranked to third, it’s Joey’s turn. Obviously, winning the All-Star event can do that.
4. Jimmie Johnson (+1): Although Jimmie didn’t extend his record of All-Star Race wins to five, he’s still Jimmie and that’s credential enough.
5. Chase Elliott (-2): Chase made the exhibition race via the fan vote and had strong showings in both the Sprint Showdown and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
6t. Carl Edwards (–): Carl’s strong season continued at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a fourth-place performance in the All-Star Race.
6t. Kyle Larson (+4): Kyle was in prime position to win the All-Star Race for his first series win. That was until he hit the outside wall with two laps to go. He’ll win one in the near future.
8. Kurt Busch (–): Another race, another solid performance for Kurt. After adding a fifth-place finish in the exhibition race, it’s becoming more the norm for these type of finishes than not.
9. Martin Truex Jr. (-5): Martin’s 14th-place finish on Saturday night might be the cause for his drop here, but make no mistake, he’s still a contender to win most races every weekend.
10. Brad Keselowski (-1): A runner-up finish and the most laps led last time out to go along with two wins already on the young season have Brad in 10th place of Lionel Racing’s Power 10.