CONCORD, N.C. – Jamie McMurray delivered a $1 million payday for team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates by winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Strategy was the name of the game for McMurray and his crew chief Keith Rodden, who used two-tire pit stops throughout the first four segments of the 90-lap race to garner the second-best average finish ahead of the mandatory four-tire pit stop prior to the fifth and final segment.
“This is a really awesome moment,” said McMurray, a former Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner.
McMurray’s crew delivered during the pit stop, getting him off pit road second behind polesitter Carl Edwards. McMurray was followed in the restart order by Kevin Harvick, who had the best average finish from the first four segments and came off pit road third.
Edwards tried to snatch the lead as soon as the green flag waved for the final 10-lap segment, but McMurray hung to Edwards’ outside. The two briefly touched as they battled for the lead, but Edwards was unable to dispose of McMurray.
McMurray and Edwards stayed side-by-side as they came back around to the front stretch, but going through turns one and two McMurray got enough of a run on the outside to drive past Edwards to take the race lead.
Once in the lead McMurray quickly began to pull away, getting out to as much as a 1.3-second lead. Behind him Harvick, who had one of the fastest cars all night, worked his way by Edwards and into second.
Harvick began to slowly chip away at McMurray’s lead, but with only a few laps left it was far too late. McMurray got to the finish line first, beating Harvick to the checkers by .696 of a second to pocket the $1 million payday.
“It is so much different then winning the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard because there are no points and I think the mentality going into that last segment is all or nothing,” said McMurray, who had two points paying victories at Charlotte already on his resume. “That was my thought process. I’m like I don’t really care if we wreck, I don’t care what happens, I’m racing for a million dollars. I get to start on the front row and I’m going to make the very most out of the restart and everything that goes with this.
“It was awesome. It was three or four of the hardest laps I’ve ever driven in my racing career,” McMurray said.
Harvick said his crew simply didn’t get the job done on pit road Saturday night.
“I thought we had a really fast race car and did all the things we needed to do to put ourselves in position on the race track and just couldn’t get it done on pit road tonight,” Harvick said. “We just didn’t make it happen at the end and ran out of time as we got to the closing laps.”
The race got off to a fast start, with Edwards grabbing the lead in the opening 20-lap segment. He didn’t stay there long as Kyle Busch charged to the point after starting second, inhaling Edwards on lap nine to take the race lead.