While Kyle and Kurt Busch dominated the first four segments of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night, Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line in first place, adding another victory to his impressive record which now includes four All-Star victories. Fans turned out in their thousands to watch the race, with millions watching on live television, but although supporting the NASCAR event, there’s a growing consensus that something needs to be done to liven up what has become a predictable race. Even Johnson conceded that some changes need to be made to the race, noting that in the first four segments of the race drivers were using different strategies which made the race exciting, adding that on the last segment options are limited to make the multiple passes needed to win. Johnson also gave credit to his pit crew for their speedy work on a mandatory four-tire pit stop prior to the final segment which put him beside Kasey Kahne for the last green flag.
With the Coca-Cola 600 up ahead, it has been noted that the recent resurfacing of the track at Charlotte changes the handling of the cars. Johnson revealed that the previous track was so familiar to him and his team that they knew what adjustments needed to be made to the car at each stage of the race and time of day, all of which has changed now. Johnson is being cited as the favorite to win the Coca-Cola 600, with other top contenders including Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.
Among the strategies being put forward to liven up the competition for future All-Star events, has been to move the race to Bristol Motor Speedway – quite a drastic step when considering that 28 of the 29 editions of the event have been held at Charlotte. The suggestion to move the race came as a result of a Twitter survey conducted by Clint Bowyer on Sunday. Johnson’s crew chief Chad Kraus offered another possible solution, which he admitted would not likely be seen as viable by Goodyear, and that is to make a softer tire compound to wear more quickly on the track surface at Charlotte, thereby compensating for the track being less abrasive than others.
Driving for Font Row Motorsports, David Ragan crossed the finish line in first place in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. Ragan was closely followed by teammate David Gilliland in what is widely being described as a “surprising” finish and a “David and Goliath” type battle and victory. Carl Edwards took third place followed by Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Johnson in fourth and fifth places.
Talladega has been the scene of a number of devastating crashes over the years, and Sunday’s race included two crashes which may have changed the outcome of the race, but thankfully didn’t cause any major injuries. The first crash took place 44 laps into the race and involved 16 cars. Kyle Busch’s car tapped the back of Kasey Kahne’s sending him into the wall and resulting in a chain reaction which Busch later accepted responsibility for triggering. The second crash came following a three-hour delay caused by heavy rain and a restart with only six laps to go, raising questions by some as to why NASCAR didn’t just call the race and avoid the last restart, with others supporting NASCAR’s decision. Danica Patrick, Terry Labonte, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and JJ Yeley were among the drivers involved in the second crash.
The latest NASCAR Sprint Cup standings has Jimmie Johnson (383 points) in the lead, followed by Carl Edwards (342 points), Dale Earnhardt Jr (324 points), Clint Bowyer (316 points), Brad Keselowski (314 points), Kasey Kahne (299 points), Aric Almirola (293 points), Paul Menard (290 points), Kyle Busch (285 points) and Greg Biffle (280 points).
Born on December 24, 1985, in Unadilla, Georgia, David Ragan started racing at the age of 12 in the Bandolero Series. He has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2007 when he replaced Mark Martin in the #6 for Roush Fenway Racing. His first career NASCAR Sprint Cup series victory came on July 2, 2011 in the Coke Zero 400 held at the Daytona International Speedway. Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 victory was his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win.