The five-time Sprint Cup Series champ is now a four-time All-Star Race winner.
Jimmie Johnson bolted away from Kasey Kahne after a spirited battle for the lead at the beginning of the final 10 lap segment of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race to win by more than a second over Joey Logano.
It was Johnson's second straight All-Star Race win, and this time, he did it – with the help of redesigned rules – considerably differently than last year. In last year's race, Johnson won the first segment, which guaranteed his position at the front of the field before the race's final mandatory pit stop. Since his spot was assured so early, he and Chad Knaus used the middle segments as a glorified test session to make adjustments on the car for the final sprint.
This year, perhaps in response to Johnson's winning strategy in 2012, the race was divided into four 20 lap segments and a final 10 lap sprint, with the average finish of each driver in the first four segments determining the order in which the field entered pit road before those final 10 laps. After starting 18th, Johnson wasn't in a position to win the first segment, but meticulously worked his way through the field and finished third in the final two 20 lap segments.
Those third place finishes helped Johnson enter pit road fourth after Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne, and thanks to some quick pit work by his team, Johnson exited pit road second to Kahne.
After Kahne restarted on the outside for the sprint to the finish, Johnson stayed glued to Kahne's inside and prevented his teammate from clearing him on the high side. As the two sailed through turn four approaching eight laps to go, Johnson moved in front of Kahne and it was over from there.
Of course, this being NASCAR and this being Jimmie Johnson, the result wasn't without an obligatory post-race spell of tinfoil-hat wearing amongst the conspiracy theorist set. Those new Johnson-inspired rules meant that math was involved in determining who was lined up where after the fourth segment. And in Fox Sports' attempt to calculate the average finishes of each driver before the field hit pit road, the on-screen graphic displaying what the lineup should be was horribly incorrect. Kyle Busch was listed as the leader (he would be second), and Johnson wasn't even listed in the top 10. Johnson's average segment finish was 6.5. There was no question he was legitimately fourth.
Before Johnson took over the race's final eight laps, the first eighty were a main course of the Busch brothers with a side of Kahne. Kurt Busch won the first and third segments while Kyle took the second and Kahne the fourth. After those four segments, the Busch brothers were tied for the best average finish, and by virtue of his higher finish in the fourth segment, Kurt Busch led the field onto pit road. However, he exited fifth and that's where he finished.
In the Sprint Showdown for drivers not qualified for the All-Star race, Jamie McMurray led all 40 laps for the win and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second. And in a surprise to no one, Danica Patrick won the fan vote to qualify. She finished 20th.