By Team Ford Racing Correspondent
The Sprint All-Star Race, which NASCAR advertises as the best all-star event in sports, has had more than its share of close, dramatic finishes over a 30-year history.
The race’s main drama in 2011, however, came after the finish -- almost a minute after it, in fact. Ford Racing’s Carl Edwards had dominated the race’s closing laps and won easily over Kyle Busch.
Edwards’ only problem of the night -- and it was a somewhat embarrassing one -- occurred a lap later as he roared off the fourth turn in a celebratory mood.
Edwards turned a hard left off the fourth-turn banking onto the grass separating the frontstretch from pit road with a plan to slide his car across the grass before jumping out to do his traditional victory backflip.
That was the plan. The reality was altogether different.
The front splitter of Edwards’ car was very low to the ground -- the better for positive aero results, and when Edwards shot across the grass, still at high speed, the splitter dug into the ground, crunching the front end of the car as it slid along.
Somewhat sheepishly, Edwards climbed out of the car and performed a perfect backflip. The car, with its front end battered and smoking, was towed to victory lane, where Edwards picked up a check for $1.2 million.
“We tore up a race car, but we won a million dollars,” Edwards said later, only slightly disturbed by the turn of events.
That was Ford’s last win in NASCAR’s annual big-money special-event shootout. Matt Kenseth won in 2004 and Mark Martin in 2005 in Fords.
Saturday night, the Ford contingent shoots for the big dollars again in one of NASCAR’s most popular events. Five Ford drivers -- Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, David Ragan and Edwards -- are guaranteed starting spots in the 90-lap feature.
Edwards has an impressive record in the all-star race. In eight tries, he has a win and three top-five finishes. Logano has finished in the top 10 in all three of his appearances and has an average finish of 4.3. Biffle has three top 10s in 10 races.
Logano, one of the bright stars of the early part of this season, can see the stars aligning.
“You don’t come to the All-Star Race to run second, third or 16th,” he said. “You want to come here to win the race and a million bucks. I’ve said before, I finished second last year, and you know who remembers that -- no one.
“There are no points, so you don’t worry about trying to finish third or fourth or anything. You want to go for that win.”
While the available dollars certainly make going for the All-Star win a priority, it’s no secret that teams often use the All-Star weekend as an extended test session for the following week’s Coca-Cola 600 (also at CMS) and for other 1.5-mile-track races down the road. With five 1.5-mile speedways in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the advantages attached to running a lot of laps at CMS this weekend are obvious.
By midnight Saturday night, a lot of knowledge will be stored away, and a lot of money will have been won.