Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roush-Fenway Drivers Sweep Every All-Star Race Segment, Edwards Captures Win

Edwards damaged his car in the victory celebration burnout (Getty)
CONCORD, N.C. – Carl Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing put on a commanding performance in Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After finishing second in both the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500, Edwards closed the deal on a big one, leading 29 laps and pulling away to win the famed all-star event.

Edwards led a stellar Roush Fenway effort that saw the organization lead 75 of the 100 laps in the race, with all four Roush Fenway cars finishing inside the top eight.

Greg Biffle led a race-high 46 laps and finished fifth. Matt Kenseth was sixth and David Ragan, who took the checkered flag earlier in the night with a dominating performance in the Sprint Cup Showdown, finished eighth in his first career Sprint All-Star Race.

Edwards’ win is Roush Fenway’s fourth in the Sprint All-Star and its first since 2005. The sweep is the team’s first on All-Star night and Ragan’s win is Roush Fenway’s second in the Sprint Showdown.

The teams return to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend, for the season’s longest race of the season; the Coca-Cola 600. Roush Fenway has won the 600 on four occasions and has won in the Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte seven times.

Counting the Sprint All-Star Race, Roush Fenway has now won four times in Sprint Cup action this season, while finishing runner up on two more occasions. Edwards, who also won at Las Vegas earlier this season, leads the Sprint Cup point standings by 24 heading into next weeks 600-mile event.

- Roush Fenway Racing, Press Release

All-Star Race Final Results

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Fan Vote Into All-Star Event

Dale Jr. set a fan vote record to make race (Getty)
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DALE JR. FOUNDATION/VHI SAVE THE MUSIC/AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, was voted into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by the fans and announced following the Sprint Showdown Race. A short press conference was held in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Infield Media Center. Full transcript:

We’re also welcomed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who, as we previously announced, was the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote.

THE MODERATOR: Dale, 2.4 million votes cast. Talk about what that means?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I thank not only my fans, but all the fans that voted. I know my fans worked really hard. I kept up on the Internet about the temperature they had about it. They were committed pretty hard. So I appreciate the help.

We did struggle a little bit today. We hit on some things right there at the end that made the car a good bit faster. I was really happy with the speed on the last run.

Just a short race, starting so far back, we knew we were going to have to probably take no tires on that halfway break. I knew the guys were in front of me, if I couldn’t get by them in the first 20, were going to do the same thing. That dirty air was pretty bad.

Running pretty good on the second segment. David and the 27 were side by side in front of me. I started plowing, getting real, real tight, ended up losing the nose. Got a break to change it under caution with 13 to go. The last run was really good.

We’ll open it up for questions for Dale Jr. in the media center.

Q. Now that you have it in the bag, was there ever any doubt that you weren’t going to win the fan vote in your mind?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Sure. Generally anytime there’s a contest, they don’t announce the winner, there’s no guarantees.

I see it a whole lot different from this side of the fence than a lot of people do. I didn’t take it for granted. I knew my fans were working really hard. They’ve done a great job over the last several years of locking up the most popular driver award. All the credit goes to them. They do all the work, support us so much, really believe in what we’re trying to accomplish.

It makes going out there and working harder and harder to try to get where you want to be, be more successful, be a better competitor when you got that many people behind you.

Q. Do you think your car is good enough to challenge in this next race?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: That last run was pretty fast. Last lap was a 55. It was about a second quicker than the people behind me, half a second faster than the two guys in front of me, about 3/10ths better than the leader.

I think we made it better. The speed’s there. We were practicing yesterday, and my biggest problem right now, and I think I’ll still have it going into this race, is we don’t have any speed the first four laps. For some reason, I don’t like the way the car feels on sticker tires. So we run about the same lap time. The car doesn’t fall off too bad. It doesn’t in practice.

We just cycled it so many times there. We had that caution in that first 20 lapper, that’s a cycle. We didn’t pit for tires. We were behind about three cars in front of us in the dirty air once we got restarted. It kills the front tires. As we saw yesterday, every time you go back out, you make big changes to free the car up, just gets getting tighter, and tighter every time you’d come in the garage and go back out.

Hard to tell if you’re helping your car. That last run, the lap times were really, really good. I think the track is coming in that direction as far as how my car handles, gripping up front a little bit. We’ll go out there and run hard. Practically we’ll get out there and mix it up a little bit.

There’s going to be some really fast cars. We pretty much know from this last race that we didn’t have the speed to go out there and win that race. So that’s definitely stating the obvious: I don’t know if we have enough for some of those guys in the field for this race. We’re going to go out there and try. We did improve the car. We’ll make some more changes. We have time in this race.

As much as I think that first segment is really kind of unnecessary, it’s going to give an opportunity for a team like us to work on the car and get it better.

Q. Rick said before the race you are close on a contract extension.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Did he say something?

Q. Yes.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Whatever he said is probably true (laughter).

We’ve been talking on the phone a little bit, just kind of saying what we think. I’m excited to be where I am. From my heart, it’s an amazing organization. There’s some great, great people there. I’ve learned a lot being around there. It’s made me a better person.

We still got a lot of things we would like to accomplish on the racetrack. If I get the opportunity to stick around, I’m definitely excited about that. We’ve just been talking about it. Hopefully I don’t think we’ll have any trouble working things out.

THE MODERATOR: Dale Jr., thank you very much. Congratulations on the 2011 Sprint Fan Vote. Good luck tonight.


- FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kyle Busch Has Career All-Star Best With Runner-Up Finish

Kyle Busch gave it a good run in the All-Star race (Getty)
Despite bringing home his career-best finish in six NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race appearances, Kyle Busch came up just short in his bid for a win in the non-points event Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) led three times for a total of 19 laps around the 1.5-mile oval to bring home a solid second-place finish.

“This was a good race for us with our M&M’s Camry,” said Busch after completing just his second Sprint All-Star Race, with the other coming in 2009. “We came up a little bit short, but we got beat by a faster car. The best I could’ve done was something on a restart and I didn’t get a great one there – that final one, but I still kept up with him (Carl Edwards) a little bit, but he was just too fast. He got away from me and spread the gap too far. By the time I was trying to run him back down on the top side there, it just took me too long to get back to him. A few more laps, maybe I would’ve got him, but all you had was 10 (laps).”

The 100-lap Sprint All-Star Race is made up of four segments consisting of 50 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps. The All-Star Race is open to drivers and owners who have won a race in 2010 or 2011, in addition to All-Star Race winners and Sprint Cup champions from the past 10 years.

After winning the pole on Friday, Busch led the field to the green and held the point for three laps before relinquishing the top spot to Greg Biffle. Despite losing the lead early, Busch had a strong car and stayed among the top-three for the majority of the event.

During the first two pit stops, crew chief Dave Rogers made air pressure and track bar adjustments in hopes of fixing a tight handling condition with Busch’s M&M’s Camry.

While Rogers helped improve the handling of Busch’s car throughout the night, it appeared that Carl Edwards was the class of the 21-car field. In fact, Busch took the lead with a nifty move on the restart that began segment three on lap 71, but Edwards eventually reeled Busch in and retook the lead on lap 86 just prior to lap 90.

Busch was very happy with his car';s performance (Getty)
Prior to the final 10-lap segment of the All-Star Race, all cars were required to perform a four-tire pit stop. The No. 18 M&M’s Toyota came into the pits in second and exited in the same position, where it set up the final shootout with Edwards leading and Busch restarting beside him. On the final restart, Edwards quickly pulled away, and while Busch began to reel him in during the final few lap of the race, he didn’t have enough time to challenge Edwards for the win.

“We definitely had a car that was coming there, but Carl just got so far out there on that last restart,” Busch said. “It took me too long to find a lane that would really start helping me run him back down. I was trying to make sure I didn’t get passed from behind, but as soon as I got a gap behind me, I would move around and try to make some ground up elsewhere. I was making it, but not fast enough.

“We did everything right there at the end on pit road that we could. We just made some minor adjustments and those minor adjustments helped. I didn’t think we were a long-run car, but there at the end we were a long-run car. It’s great that we came out here and we finished second with our M&M’s Camry – we finally finished one of these races. That’s a way in the right direction anyways, and now we know what we got beat by. We’ll just come back here next year and try to do it.”

Busch’s JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin, finished seventh.

Busch’s other JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished fifth in the preliminary Sprint Showdown, which was won by David Ragan by .475 of a second over Brad Keselowski.

The 40-lap Sprint Showdown consisted of two 20-lap segments, with the top-two drivers from the final segment advancing into the All-Star Race. Unfortunately for Logano, his fifth-place finish did not qualify him to participate in the All-Star Race.

Busch finished .443 of a second behind Edwards in the runner-up spot, while David Reutimann, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Hamlin, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing on May 29 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m.

- True Speed Communication for Joe Gibbs Racing, Press Release

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