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NASCAR NEWS 

Jimmie Johnson takes his third NASCAR All-Star race win

Jimmie Johnson wins All-StarJimmie Johnson claimed his third career NASCAR All-Star race win by comfortably beating Penske's Brad Keselowski at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The five-time Sprint Cup Series champion was able to carry his momentum from last week, when he gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th Cup victory at Darlington, to dominate the decisive final 10 laps of the non-points event on Saturday night.

Johnson rose through the order during the first 20-lap segment from sixth on the grid, taking the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch on lap 16 and then pulling away to win the first portion of the event.

That gave him the key advantage of being first in the order for the final mandatory pitstop of the race, which would later be key in determining how the field would line up for the restart ahead of the last 10 laps of the fifth segment.

Having claimed that edge over his rivals, Johnson ran at the back of the field saving his machinery and avoiding any accidental contact while working on fine-tuning his car's balance.

The Californian was then able to make the most of his lead into the pits after the fourth segment, preserving the top spot off pit road partly thanks to his strategic advantage of having the first pit-stall, which his team earned on Thursday thanks to its pit-crew challenge victory.

When the green waved for the final 15 miles of racing, Johnson pulled away from Keselowski and was never threatened by the Penske racer.

Johnson's victory, his ninth at Charlotte, earned him US $1,071,340 and gave his boss Rick Hendrick a seventh All-Star win in what has been a stellar week for NASCAR's leading organisation.

"To make the odds be in your favour, being in the front row for the final segment was going to be the key, so winning the first or second segments was the goal," said Johnson, who now ties the late Dale Earnhardt and his team-mate Jeff Gordon for the most career All-Star wins.

"We weren't sure we could get there starting sixth but the racecar was so amazing. I put her on the outside at the start of the first heat and let her rip around the top to get the lead.

"Then we were smart from there and worked on the car and got it right so we could be good in the end."

Matt Kenseth was the winner of the second 20-lap segment, where his Roush Fenway team-mate Carl Edwards caused the first caution of the night following a fiery engine failure. It would be the first of two such incidents for the team, as Greg Biffle's car succumbed to the same issue during the third segment.

Keselowski, who pitted during the second segment's caution flag, stayed out during the optional pitstop following the second segment, and led the entire third portion of the race, just edging Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne to the line in a photo-finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr won the Sprint Showdown to race his way into the main event, followed by Penske's AJ Allmendinger, and eventually won the fourth segment, lining up fourth in the order ahead of the final mandatory stop, where the top five opted for a stop-and-go.

In the end Kenseth, who was second at the final restart, was third at the flag followed by Busch and Earnhardt.

Former Cup and Nationwide champion Bobby Labonte won the fan vote to get into the main event, where he finished 19th.

All-Star results - 90 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                     Time/Gap
 1.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet       1h28m00.000s
 2.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                 + 0.841s
 3.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford            + 1.747s
 4.  Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                 + 4.100s
 5.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet           + 4.779s
 6.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet          + 5.187s
 7.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                   + 5.915s
 8.  Kurt Busch          Phoenix Chevrolet            + 6.342s
 9.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           + 6.447s
10.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       + 6.786s
11.  AJ Allmendinger     Penske Dodge                 + 7.866s
12.  Regan Smith         Furniture Row Chevrolet      + 7.880s
13.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet           + 9.062s
14.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota              + 10.241s
15.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford          + 10.250s
16.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet         + 10.290s
17.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet      + 11.458s
18.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford              + 11.908s
19.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota        + 11.909s
20.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                + 12.428s
21.  Mark Martin         Waltrip Toyota              + 24.450s

Retirements:

     Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            67 laps
     Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            25 laps

Showdown results - 40 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                       Time/Gap
 1.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet           28m40.000s
 2.  AJ Allmendinger     Penske Dodge                   + 2.384s
 3.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet    + 3.031s
 4.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                 + 4.484s
 5.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet    + 5.174s
 6.  Joey Logano         Gibbs Toyota                   + 7.282s
 7.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                     + 8.050s
 8.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet            + 9.496s
 9.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                     + 10.026s
10.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                     + 10.718s
11.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                  + 12.747s
12.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota          + 13.830s
13.  Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                + 14.624s
14.  Scott Speed         Leavine Family Ford           + 15.218s
15.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                + 20.250s

Retirements:

     Mike Bliss          Humphrey Smith Toyota           28 laps
     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                    26 laps
     David Stremme       Inception Toyota                22 laps
     David Reutimann     Baldwin Chevrolet               20 laps
     Tony Raines         Baldwin Chevrolet               20 laps
     Stephen Leicht      Little Joe's Chevrolet           7 laps
     JJ Yeley            Robinson-Blakeney Toyota         3 laps
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