Jimmie Johnson claimed his third career NASCAR All-Star race win by comfortably beating Penske's Brad Keselowski at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The five-time Sprint Cup Series champion was able to carry his momentum from last week, when he gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th Cup victory at Darlington, to dominate the decisive final 10 laps of the non-points event on Saturday night.
Johnson rose through the order during the first 20-lap segment from sixth on the grid, taking the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch on lap 16 and then pulling away to win the first portion of the event.
That gave him the key advantage of being first in the order for the final mandatory pit stop of the race, which would later be key in determining how the field would line up for the restart ahead of the last 10 laps of the fifth segment.
Having claimed that edge over his rivals, Johnson ran at the back of the field saving his machinery and avoiding any accidental contact while working on fine-tuning his car's balance. The Californian was then able to make the most of his lead into the pits after the fourth segment, preserving the top spot off pit road partly thanks to his strategic advantage of having the first pit stall, which his team earned on Thursday thanks to its pit crew challenge victory.
When the green waved for the final 15 miles of racing, Johnson pulled away from Keselowski and was never threatened by the Penske racer. Johnson's victory, his ninth at Charlotte, earned him $1,071,340 and gave his boss Rick Hendrick a seventh All-Star win in what has been a stellar week for NASCAR's leading organization.
"To make the odds be in your favor, being in the front row for the final segment was going to be the key, so winning the first or second segments was the goal," said Johnson, who now ties the late Dale Earnhardt and his teammate Jeff Gordon for the most career All-Star wins.
"We weren't sure we could get there starting sixth but the racecar was so amazing. I put her on the outside at the start of the first heat and let her rip around the top to get the lead. Then we were smart from there and worked on the car and got it right so we could be good in the end."
Matt Kenseth was the winner of the second 20-lap segment, where his Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards caused the first caution of the night following a fiery engine failure. It would be the first of two such incidents for the team, as Greg Biffle's car succumbed to the same issue during the third segment.
Keselowski, who pitted during the second segment's caution flag, stayed out during the optional pit stop following the second segment, and led the entire third portion of the race, just edging Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne to the line in a photo finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Sprint Showdown to race his way into the main event, followed by Penske's AJ Allmendinger, and eventually won the fourth segment, lining up fourth in the order ahead of the final mandatory stop, where the top five opted for a splash-and-go. In the end Kenseth, who was second at the final restart, was third at the flag followed by Busch and Earnhardt.
Former Cup and Nationwide champion Bobby Labonte won the fan vote to get into the main event, where he finished 19th.
All-Star results - 90 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 1h28m00.000s
2. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 0.841s
3. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 1.747s
4. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 4.100s
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Chevrolet + 4.779s
6. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 5.187s
7. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 5.915s
8. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 6.342s
9. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 6.447s
10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 6.786s
11. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 7.866s
12. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 7.880s
13. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 9.062s
14. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 10.241s
15. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford + 10.250s
16. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 10.290s
17. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 11.458s
18. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 11.908s
19. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 11.909s
20. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 12.428s
21. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 24.450s
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 67 laps
Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 25 laps
Showdown results - 40 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Chevrolet 28m40.000s
2. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 2.384s
3. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 3.031s
4. Martin Truex Jr. Waltrip Toyota + 4.484s
5. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 5.174s
6. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 7.282s
7. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 8.050s
8. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 9.496s
9. Landon Cassill BK Toyota + 10.026s
10. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 10.718s
11. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 12.747s
12. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 13.830s
13. Josh Wise Front Row Ford + 14.624s
14. Scott Speed Leavine Family Ford + 15.218s
15. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 20.250s
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 28 laps
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 26 laps
David Stremme Inception Toyota 22 laps
David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 20 laps
Tony Raines Baldwin Chevrolet 20 laps
Stephen Leicht Little Joe's Chevrolet 7 laps
JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 3 laps