Columbia, Missouri's own Carl Edwards took home the big prize Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Edwards, the points leader in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings, won three of the four segments in the 100-lap, non-points, special exhibition race that is held annually the week before the Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend.
An impressive, nearly flawless, mandatory four-tire pit stop got Edwards off pit road first at the start of the final segment of the race, a 10-lap dash to the finish. The driver of the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford led all 10 laps and held off Kyle Busch by .443 seconds at the finish to grab his first All-Star race victory in six starts and the fourth all-time for owner Roush-Fenway. Edwards' previous best finish in the race was fourth in 2006.
David Reutimann finshed third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Greg Biffle, a teammate of Edwards, took fifth in the race. There were eight lead changes among Edwards, Busch, Stewart and Biffle over the full 100 laps. Edwards won $1.2 million dollars for winning the All-Star race, the highest purse ever for a single All-Star event.
It turns out that it was a good thing the prize money was as much as it was, because the current Sprint Cup leader got a little over exuberant in his celebratory post-race burnouts. Edwards' car was reported to have hit what appeared to be a manhole or drain cover in the infield grass at the Charlotte Speedway during the beginning of his burnouts, causing extensive damage to the front-end of the No. 99 Ford. That was about all that went wrong for Edwards and his Roush-Fenway crew the entire night.
To the crowd's delight, Edwards did successfully perform one of his patented back flips after exiting his heavily damaged winning car.
In his post-race comments, Edwards was quick to recognize his pit crew for the success the No. 99 car was able to achieve on the track at Charlotte. "The key to winning this race was the guys behind me," he said. "[Crew chief] Bob Osborne and my guys - especially the guys on pit road - they could have dropped the ball. That's all the pressure in the world on those guys."
"Tonight we just flat got beat," a disappointed Busch acknowledged after the All-Star race. "A few more laps and maybe I would have got him, but all we had was 10," he said.
Edwards said he apologized to his crew chief Osborne for damaging the car. "I feel so bad about tearing up the car," Edwards said, "but I'm sure Bob's got a better one."
A million dollars in a one-race payout tends to soothe over a lot of things.
Edwards actually started the Saturday night's All-Star race in the No. 4 position on the grid. Another Kansas City-area driver, Clint Bowyer, who hails from Emporia, Kan., started second, but came in 16th, one position behind Jeff Gordon. Bowyer, who is eighth in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings, drives the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing team.