ONCORD, N.C. — Carl Edwards easily claimed the $1 million payday Saturday night with a flawless run in the Sprint All-Star Race.
His only mistake at Charlotte Motor Speedway came after he beat Kyle Busch to the checkered flag. Although it appeared Edwards ran over either a manhole cover or drainage device, a collision that caused heavy damage to the front of his Roush Fenway Racing Ford, track officials said the infield has only grass, so it wasn't clear what caused all the mishap.
Edwards had a sheepish grin as he climbed out his window for his customary celebratory backflip, and he apologized to crew chief Bob Osborne for wrecking the car.
"That's a million dollars. We just won a million dollars," Edwards said from Victory Lane. "I feel so bad about tearing up the car. But I'm sure Bob's got a better one."
Edwards won three of the four segments in the 100-lap race, but still had one last pit stop and a 10-lap sprint to the finish before he could claim his first All-Star victory. NASCAR brought the field in for a 10-minute break following the third segment, then sent the cars back to the track for parade laps before they were required to return to pit road for a four-tire stop.
The stop is where the pit crews have their chance to shine in this event, and Edwards' team delivered. He came in as the leader and left as the leader, beating Busch back onto the track.
Edwards then got a terrific jump on the restart and easily pulled away. The final 10 laps have always been billed as a wild, dash for the cash, but the excitement never came. The drivers raced clean and caution free, and Busch had no chance of catching Edwards.
"As far as he jumped out on me really surprised me," Busch said. "He took off so far, I was like 'Damn, there ain't no way I am going to be able to run him down in this short period of time.' "
Busch, who has a history of wrecking cars capable of winning the All-Star race, settled for second in a Toyota.
David Reutimann was third in a Toyota and followed by Tony Stewart, who celebrated his 40th birthday a day earlier.
Greg Biffle was fifth, Matt Kenseth was sixth and RFR teammate David Ragan was eighth to put all four of the team's car inside the top eight. Ragan won the Sprint Showdown qualifier earlier Saturday to earn his spot in the field.
Denny Hamlin was seventh. Kevin Harvick was ninth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10.
Kurt Busch's struggles continued Saturday night and he sounded despondent over his team's performance for much of the event. He finished 13th. His teammate, Brad Keselowski, finished 18th after moving into the All-Star race with a second-place finish in the qualifier.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., made his way into the race by winning the fan vote that puts a third driver from the Sprint Showdown into the main event. But he had nothing for the contenders in the All-Star race and finished 14th.