All-Star Race Notebook

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson’s win was his fourth in the All-Star race, breaking a tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt for most wins in the event. (Photo: Getty Images)

CONCORD, N.C. - Tony Stewart could have unleashed a flurry of colorful words on his radio at the end of Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race after yet another disappointing performance.

Instead, the fiery driver took a different approach. He was calm and encouraging after he finished 14th - marking the ninth consecutive race he has failed to finish in the top 10.

“We’ve got to keep fighting and keep working at it," Stewart told his team moments after Jimmie Johnson won the race. “We know we can do better. We’ve got to keep our chins up and do it."

It has been surprising how much Stewart has struggled this season. While he has the reputation of starting slow before excelling in the summer, this season has been confounding.

He is 21st in the points heading into the Coca-Cola 600. He’s never been this low in the points at this time in the season. This is only the fourth time in 15 seasons he’s been outside the top 10 in points heading into the 600.

It’s not been just Stewart, though. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Dancia Patrick are also outside the top 15 in points. Newman is 17th and Patrick is 28th.

“I feel like we all have the same feeling about the car and we all have a similar opinion of what the car is doing and more importantly what it’s not doing," Patrick said this past weekend. “And when that happens, it’s time to go to work to figure out how to get that out of the car. And I feel like once we do we are going to be better for the struggles that we have had.’’

Making a Statement?
Kurt Busch won two of the five segments Saturday night before finishing the fifth in the final segment.

Even with the disappointment of not challenging for the win - he fell from first to fifth on the mandatory pit stop before the final segment - Busch still could smile.

“We’re stoked with the finish and yet we want more," Busch said on pit road afterward. “All that we did translates to the 600 and we have to pace ourselves for 400 laps not just 90."

Confusing Situation
Many fans questioned why Jimmie Johnson was fourth entering pit road for the mandatory pit stop before the final segment. The confusion arose because of a mistake on SPEED's broadcast.

Teams were aligned based on their average finish in the first four segments. Then pit road was opened. A graphic during the SPEED telecast had the incorrect order.

Broadcaster Mike Joy responded to several comments on Twitter after the race and Sunday afternoon stating the mistake on the network’s part. In one tweet he wrote Sunday afternoon: “No excuse for wrong data. Mistakes were made, we’ve already changed procedure so it shouldn’t happen again."

NASCAR posted a picture Sunday on Twitter that showed each driver and their average finish in the four segments. Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch tied with a 2.0 average but Kurt Busch was first based on his higher finish in the fourth segment. Kasey Kahne was next with an average finish of 4.75 and then came Johnson, whose average finish was 6.5. Behind him was Joey Logano (7.0 average finish), Clint Bowyer (7.0) and the rest of the field.

Tough Luck
Southern 500 winner Matt Kenseth, who has been strong on most of the big tracks this season, was not a factor Saturday, finishing ninth.

“We were just too tight and then we pitted under that first caution so we could kind of have an advantage on tires and I think it all would have worked out fine," he said. “Then the red flag came out (for rain) and you were allowed to work on your car under red. Honestly, that pretty much doomed our whole night because now we’re in last place and everyone is on the same tires and fuel.

“If there’s a silver lining, we got it driving better then. Just kind of frustrating two days really."

Million Dollar Man
Jimmie Johnson collected $1,039,175 for winning Saturday’s All-Star race. It’s his second big payment this year after he won the Daytona 500. He collected $1,525,275 for that win.

More Notes...
Jimmie Johnson’s win was his fourth in the All-Star race, breaking a tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt for most wins in the event. Johnson also won the event in 2003, ’06 and ’12. ... The last time a driver won the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 in back-to-back weekends was Kurt Busch in 2010. ... Joey Logano’s second-place finish was a career-best in the All-Star race. He’s finished in the top 10 in each of his three All-Star appearances. ... Kyle Busch finished third, marking his third consecutive top-five finish in the event. ... Jamie McMurray, who won the Sprint Showdown, finished eighth in the All-Star race. ... Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second in the Sprint Showdown to advance to the All-Star race where he placed 16th. ... Danica Patrick, who won the fan vote to get into the All-Star race, finished 20th in the 22-car field.

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