From the Marbles - NASCAR

Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race was billed as the season's ultimate showdown, a winner-take-all brawl where battling drivers could settle scores at 200 mph, an escalating series of duels capped by a shootout that would be the best 10 laps of the season.

Yeah, well ... it didn't quite work out that way.

Carl Edwards continued to build on what's shaping up to be the best season of his career by outrunning the best of the best in the final 10-lap segment. Kyle Busch took shots at him, but could never get close enough to really close the deal when it mattered. The rest of the field had little in the way of a challenge for Edwards: Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle ran up front briefly but drifted backward; Jeff Gordon couldn't overcome wretched restarts; and Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin were utter nonfactors.

And the yawn-inducing laps weren't limited to the main event. The Showdown, from which two drivers would jump to the All-Star race, was equally as routine, with David Ragan and Brad Keselowski checking out on the field with several laps left to go. In a decision that surprised exactly no one, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the fan vote to get into the big race. And SPEED padded the prerace festivities with so much blather and overblown driver/crew introductions that the race started more than 30 minutes after its scheduled green flag, and ran until well after 11 p.m. Eastern.

Still, none of this should take away from Edwards' exceptional run. It's not his fault that he lulled both viewers and competitors to sleep with some masterful handling of his car. In fact, his only misstep came when he tried to do a burnout in the infield grass, dug the front quarterpanel into the sod, and nearly flipped the car.

"I think some people would like to think that I'm smart enough and savvy enough, all of us are, to come up with some trick and destroy it like that and make it look like an accident," Edwards said when asked if he wrecked his car on purpose. "We're not that smart. I really did just tear up the race car."

Said Kyle Busch: "From my vantage point, it was kind of a tame race today. I think there was only one or two interruptions besides the normal cautions that we have in this race." Then he smiled. "Sorry, we didn't give you any scoop or drama."

Somehow, we think Edwards is just fine with that, even if nobody else is.

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