Carl Edwards fended off Kyle Busch to win Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Roush Fenway racer claimed his first win in the non-points event after dominating in the decisive stages, making a perfect restart to the final 10-lap shootout in which Busch was his main opposition.
Much action was expected in the last and shortest of the four segments the race was split into but the final laps went caution-free, preventing Busch from having a second shot at Edwards' lead. The Joe Gibbs racer seemed to be closing the gap in the end, but there were not enough laps left for him to put Edwards under real pressure.
"The [final] restart was good, and man, that [engine] really runs so you've got to be careful - especially these engines they brought for the All-Star race, they're fast," said Edwards.
"That was a great restart and it could have gone either way. Kyle could have really hung in there and it would've been a really tough race, so I'm glad we were able to get him."
Edwards' usually spectacular victory celebrations did not go quite as planned this time as he caused massive damage to the front end of his car when he tried to spin it over the infield grass at high speed. He was unable to drive it into Victory Lane after that.
"I usually pull down there, do a back flip," said Edwards, who then performed his usual acrobatics out of his battered Ford. "I thought, 'Hey, I'm going to do a slide to the grass. This will be great.' As soon as I turned to the grass, I found the drainage cover there, I guess. It just dug in the splitter. I didn't expect that."
Busch led from pole position into the first 50-lap segment before Greg Biffle passed him on lap four. He would then regain the lead on the restart for the third 20-lap segment but Edwards passed him again four laps before its conclusion. The final restart then all but dashed Busch's hopes of winning his first All-Star race.
"As far as he jumped out on me, [that] really surprised me," said Busch. "I thought maybe I could run within three, four car lengths of him and kind of stay there until you built front air pressure.
"He took off so far, it was like, 'damn, ain't no way I'm going to be able to run him back down in this period of time...' There ain't no time."
Edwards' pit crew was crucial in helping him remain in the lead after the final mandatory four-tyre stop before the start of the last 10 laps.
Roush Fenway drivers won every segment of the night, David Ragan leading the first part of the Sprint Showdown and then winning the event, which gave him and runner-up Brad Keselowski spots in the All-Star race.
Greg Biffle won the first 50-lap segment of the main event, while Edwards led at the end of segments two, three and then the decisive fourth. Besides the Roush Fenway duo and Busch, Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson was the only other driver to lead, spending six laps up front during the second segment before fading in the closing stages.
As expected, Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered the main event through the fans' votes, but he never had the pace to race up front, finishing only 13th in the end.