Originally Published: May 21, 2017 5:56 a.m.
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — In a race built on brave, bold moments, Kyle Busch used one to win NASCAR's annual All-Star race and its $1 million prize.
Busch used an aggressive three-wide pass for the lead Saturday night to take the All-Star event for the first time. "It was now or never," Busch said.
Although the race does not count in the standings, it was Busch's first Cup victory of the season and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch also won the Truck Series race Friday night, but the victory Saturday was the first time he's ever been to victory lane at Charlotte in a Cup car.
His winning ways in lower divisions often gives fans a sour taste, but Busch was cheered as he excitedly pumped the checkered flag. "I think they were just glad to see a new winner," he joked.
Busch dove low around Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson on the restart to take the lead on the final 10-lap sprint. This year's format pitted 10 drivers against each other for 10 final laps with the money on the line.
"I wouldn't take anyone else but Kyle Busch on a restart," said crew chief Adam Stevens.
Clean air was the difference and Busch was untouchable once out front. "We have never won in Charlotte in a Cup car and we finally did that," Busch said from victory lane. "We won a million dollars. There is reason to celebrate big. We are relieved, eluded and excited."
Kyle Larson, winner of the first two 20-lap segments and the clear car to beat, finished second. He was stymied by a slow pit stop that kept him from restarting as the leader.
Johnson won the second segment to advance, but let the win get away on the restart for the finale. "I drove too hard," Johnson said. "I saw a million dollars out the windshield and I drove too hard."