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Kurt Busch has the last laugh, and wins NASCAR's annual All-Star fling...but Kyle Busch is steaming mad at Denny Hamlin

  Kurt Busch: championship cool, and $1 million richer (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, all Joe Gibbs teammates, made quite a show of it in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race...unfortunately in too many wrong ways.
   So did Jimmie Johnson, with an uncharacteristic spinout in the final moments.
   And Kurt Busch and new crew chief Steve Addington – Kyle's former crew chief – wound up the surprise winners, in a major league comeback after several brushes with the wall throughout the two-hour event.
   "Everything that happened, we were in the right position to get around it. The sea parted for us," Addington said.
   And that was a $1 million win. "It's an unbelievable experience," Kurt Busch said. "To win the first segment was good. The second segment we were a little loose. The third segment the car was awful...and it wore on me pretty heavily. We faded back, bouncing off the wall. I thought our night was done. But during the hot dog break I told Steve 'Go for it.' The crew chief has to stand up and make the decisions like that....and this car was money when it counted. We went from fifth to first in one lap."
   The million-dollar losers, Hamlin and Kyle, then spent more than half an hour inside their trailer discussing the incident that took them out of the hunt. Busch angrily blamed Hamlin. Busch, after the meeting, left the track without comment; Hamlin did stop and talk with the media.
   The four-leg race – 50 laps, then 20 laps, then another 20 laps, then 10 laps – was rather mild, all things considered, aside from the Kyle-Denny tussle.
   The first 50-lap segment went uneventfully. So did the first 20-lap segment. Then things began to get a little wilder in the second 20-lapper, Kurt Busch twice slapping the wall and appearing to fall out of contention. But Addington, during the 10-minute break before the start of the final 10-lap sprint, did some good repair work, and Kurt Busch was solid in the clutch.


  Kyle Busch blows a right-rear and crashes. He was battling for the win, but then his teammate Denny Hamlin crowded him, and Busch brushed the wall, apparently pushing the fender in on the tire....leading to this (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   While Johnson won the second 20-lapper, to lead the field down pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop before the start of the 10-lap cash dash, Johnson lost the battle on pit road – Hamlin and Kyle Busch both beat him back on the track, to take the front row for the restart.
   Hamlin picked the outside line for the restart, with his teammate on the inside, just ahead of Johnson.
   But at the green Logano made a quick move to the inside of Johnson, that was a key moment in the race.
   "I think Kyle was spinning his tires, and I was getting a run on Jimmie," Logano said. "But you can't cross his (Johnson's) bumper till you get past the starting line. So I was trying to time my run....and I was trying to keep from getting the grass."
   Logano tried to tuck back in behind Johnson, but he wound up tagging Mark Martin, on the outside line, triggering a big crash that forced a complete restart.
  "Joey just swerved up into us," Martin said. "I've had worse....but that's about as rough as I want to have to go through."
   Logano took the blame: "It was my fault, because I stuck it in there. But it's an All-Star race, and I felt I had to go for it. I had a car that could have won."
   Indeed, for a while it looked like Gibbs' threesome might sweep 1-2-3.
   On the ensuing restart Hamlin and Kyle Busch were again side by side, with Johnson and Logano side by side right behind them.
   Then Kyle made a move to the outside of Hamlin and had a good run going, only to have Hamlin block – or feint a block.  Busch brushed the wall but kept going, though falling back.
    During the block-or-feint, Kurt Busch took advantage of the situation to sprint to the lead, and in clean air he was quickly running away.
    Kurt Busch had nearly a full second lead on Johnson and Logano when, just shy of taking the white flag, NASCAR was forced to throw the yellow when Kyle Busch blew a right-rear and slapped the wall.
    With that Kyle Busch's fuse went off, and he ripped off a radio diatribe about Hamlin, then drove his own car into the garage and parked it right behind Hamlin's hauler. "I had this race won, won!" Busch charged.
    The question then was – since replays appeared to show no contact between Hamlin and Busch – had Hamlin made a fair block, or should he have given his teammate a little more room.

   Sideways like this is a little too loose. Jimmie Johnson spins in the final miles of Saturday's All-Star race while battling for the $1 million (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    The Hamlin-Kyle Busch flap? "I know nothing," Logano said with a laugh, declining to get involved in the team squabble despite the fact he had a clean view of the run-in. "I just heard a bunch of stuff, but I don't know anything. I'm sure they'll work it out."
    Kyle Busch's yellow set up a restart, with Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson side by side, with Hamlin right behind.
    Busch got a good restart, and Johnson and Hamlin found themselves side by side in his wake. Then, coming off the corner Johnson, on the inside of Hamlin, suddenly spun out – apparently without physical contact – and skidded down into the grass. Typically, with the new flat-blade spoiler (and unlike the aerodynamic situation with the old wing), the car on the inside will lose downforce on the rear.
    That set up a two-lap green-white-checkered restart, with Kurt Busch and Logano side by side, and Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. right behind.
    Logano appeared to bog down on the restart, slowing Hamlin, as Busch sprinted away. Truex slipped around to take second, a very good finish for a man who had to fight his way into the feature by beating Greg Biffle in the opening 40-lap Showdown.
   "I just needed a few more laps; I was catching Kurt at the end," Truex said.

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 A nice crowd at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday night's All-Star race, here Kurt Busch (blue) and Joey Logano (orange) at the start (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

As usual, it was a great

As usual, it was a great ALL-Star race!

A little boring at first, but it got good and crazy at the end. I'm a fan of all the Gibbs drivers so I was really thinking we'd get a win with 10 laps to go- but a few laps later and all that went out the window!!!!

This is a good article and describes the race perfectly... Another great All- Star race to be talked about for days.

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