CONCORD, N.C. — Jamie McMurray picked up a $1 million payday by winning the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night.
McMurray restarted the final 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag in second place on the outside of pole-sitter Carl Edwards. The two battled door-to-door for a lap around Charlotte Motor Speedway, with McMurray surging slightly ahead several times.
The two cars appeared to touch more than once, and McMurray finally cleared Edwards for the lead two laps into the fifth segment.
McMurray then pulled away for his first victory in the event.
Kevin Harvick finished second, Matt Kenseth was third and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who complained earlier he was driving a dump truck, was fourth.
Edwards faded all the way to fifth.
Kurt Busch was 11th after qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day.
INDYCAR: When Ed Carpenter, Carlos Munoz and Helio Castroneves were pushed to the edge, they remained calm and came up with their best qualifying runs of the day.
Now they have to do it one more time Sunday.
The American, Colombian and Brazilian who have celebrated some of their biggest career moments at Indianapolis each made a daring run in the final 80 minutes of qualifying to take the top three seeds heading into Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 shootout.
Carpenter finished first with a four-lap qualifying average of 230.661 mph. Munoz was second at 230.460.
“I wasn’t sure we were going to go 230 in our first run, so I was relieved when we did,” Carpenter said. “But to be honest, I didn’t think going into qualifying I was going to exceed 230.”
Others drivers thought Carpenter would, and it only took one practice lap and one qualifying lap to assuage any doubts. Carpenter, the fifth car on the track, averaged 230.114, then sat around as other drivers tried to knock him off the top rung.
Nobody caught him until a rain delay ended at 4:18 p.m. Then in a flurry of speed, Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe knocked Carpenter off the pole, Munoz knocked Hinchcliffe, his teammate, off the pole, and Carpenter retook the pole. He finished the day waiting 65 minutes to see if it would stand.
Normally, the reward for surviving such tension would be celebrating a pole win.
Instead, under the new qualifying format, all Saturday did was assure Carpenter and the other eight top cars of a top-nine starting spot on Indy’s traditional 33-car starting grid. Each of the top nine will have one qualifying run Sunday, with the fastest claiming the coveted No. 1 starting spot for the May 25 race.
The success of Carpenter, Munoz and Castroneves was hardly a surprise.
Carpenter, last year’s pole winner, had one of the fastest cars in practice Thursday and Friday. If he wins the pole again, Carpenter would be the second driver since 1990 to earn consecutive poles at Indy.
Castroneves did it in 2009 and 2010.
Munoz, meanwhile, drives for Michael Andretti, whose team has consistently put four or five drivers in the top 10 all week.
In 2013, Munoz made his IndyCar debut here and responded by qualifying second, finishing second and walking away as the rookie of the year.
NATIONWIDE: Ryan Blaney became the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Truck Series at Iowa Speedway two years ago.
On Sunday, he’ll attempt to become the youngest driver to win a Nationwide race on Iowa’s short track.
The 20-year-old Blaney won’t be the only kid pushing for a podium finish.
Blaney will start from the pole for Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway after finishing first in qualifying.
Blaney won a pole for the first time in the Nationwide Series, and he did so less than 24 hours after a disappointing 22nd-place finish in the trucks race in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday night.
Sam Hornish Jr. will join Blaney on the front row, followed by Michael McDowell, Regan Smith and Dylan Kwasniewski.
Series points leader Chase Elliott will start sixth in the Nationwide’s first stand-alone race of the season, which will feature three drivers aged 20 or younger in the top six starting spots.