Kyle Busch is $1 million richer after winning NASCAR’s All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The unique knockout format of the 70-lap exhibition race resulted in a wild 10-driver, 10-lap shootout for a $1 million prize.
Brad Keselowski stayed out on older tires to begin the final 10-lap stage but was quickly passed by Kyle Busch on the restart. Busch, who started the final stage in third, dove to the bottom of the track nearly tearing up his splitter in the grass to make the pass. He was able to hold off Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson for the final 10 laps to earn his first All-Star Race win and his first Cup Series win at Charlotte.
The four-stage format (20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps) rewarded winning and incorporated a strategy component. Each of the 20 teams had one set of softer tires — for better grip and, thus, speed — available to use at its discretion in the 70-lap exhibition race.
There was one caveat however, teams that chose to use the softer tires to start the final stage had to start behind those 10 drivers that used regular tires. That rule never was implemented as each of the 10 finalists used the option tires before the final stage.
Daniel Suarez showed early how important the special tires would be as he jumped eight spots in Stage 1 after starting the race on the soft tires in order to gain track position.
Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher and Martin Truex Jr. used the option tires in Stage 2 and unsurprisingly jumped ahead, but Larson, still on older tires held the lead after Stage 2.
First off pit road after the end of Stage 2, Bowyer and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz apparently found a loophole in the tire rules. The No. 14 team elected for two tires, replacing his right-side soft tires with regular tires and leaving the soft tires on the other half of the car. NASCAR officials deemed the move legal much to the surprise of other drivers and analysts. The decision didn’t work out in Bowyer’s favor however, as he quickly dropped to eighth just three laps into Stage 3.
Pole-sitter Larson swept a caution-free Stage 1 and 2 while Johnson won Stage 3.
Full unofficial results from the NASCAR All-Star Race:
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Jamie McMurray
- Kevin Harvick
- Chase Elliott
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Blaney
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Clint Bowyer
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Daniel Suarez
- Kasey Kanhe
- Chris Buscher
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Ryan Newman
- Matt Kenseth