By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
Never was the concept of NASCAR as a team sport more in evidence that in was in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Obviously, it's impossible to ignore driver Jamie McMurray's contribution to the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team's winning performance.
McMurray clearly was determined to take full advantage of a front-row starting position for the final 10-lap sprint, the highlight of the 90-lap event.
Acknowledging that he drove his car harder than ever before in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, McMurray out-dueled Carl Edwards to take the lead and held on for the win and the accompanying million-dollar-plus prize.
But it was the varied contributions of others that put McMurray in position to battle Edwards in the first place.
Crew chief Keith Rodden called for an off-sequence pit stop for fresh tires under caution on Lap 26. That gave the team the flexibility to take two tires on later stops or to stay on the track between segments, both of which McMurray did to gain track position.
Ultimately, it was McMurray's pit crew that dashed off its best stop of the evening when it counted most, between the fourth and final segments. Carl Edwards was first off pit road from the first stall, but McMurray was second.
Had McMurray's crew been a half-second slower, the No. 1 Chevrolet would have left pit road behind Kevin Harvick's No. 4 instead of ahead of it, and the outcome of the race likely would have been quite different.
31: The race-high number of laps led by winner Jamie McMurray in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. In seven previous starts in the non-points event, McMurray had never led a lap, but on Saturday night he took the top spot on Lap 41 and led 31 of the final 50 laps.
15: The finishing position of Janet Guthrie in the 1976 World 600 (now Coca-Cola 600) at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That race was Guthrie's NASCAR debut. She stayed out of harm's way in what turned out to be a war of attrition and posted what is still the best finish by a female driver in NASCAR's longest race.
1,100: The number of racing miles completed by Tony Stewart on May 27, 2001, when "Smoke" completed the Indianapolis/Charlotte double for the second time. Stewart ran sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and third (after starting 43rd) in the Coca-Cola 600, to date the best combined result in the same-day double involving those two races.
91: The number of minutes it took Kurt Busch to travel from Indianapolis 500 qualifying to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte by plane and helicopter on Saturday. Busch hopes to keep the commute that short or shorter next Sunday, as he attempts the Indy/Charlotte double for the first time.
3: Including Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races Jamie McMurray has won at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Subbing for injured Sterling Marlin, McMurray won the 2002 fall race at CMS in his second career start. In his watershed year in 2010, he added another fall Charlotte victory to wins in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
--How did Parker Kligerman become Kurt Busch's backup driver during Kurt's attempt at the double? Well, one night, Parker walked into the Stewart-Haas racing shop, and ...
--Hearty congratulations to Jamie McMurray on his Sprint All-Star Race victory. McMurray said after the race that he plans on using the $1 million for his kids' educations, which is the flimsiest cover story for "the finest hair products in bulk size" that we've ever heard.
--Kurt Busch made it back to Charlotte from Indianapolis following the first round of Indy 500 qualifying where he was 10th-fastest, nearly reaching the 230-mph mark. He then spent the majority of the All-Star Race wishing he had brought THAT car with him.
-- In a shocking upset, the loyal Reddit community voted the Dogecoin-sponsored Josh Wise into the Sprint All-Star Race over heavy favorite Danica Patrick. This could lead to great things for Josh Wise and the No. 98 team, so long as their team web site isn't hosted by GoDaddy.com.
--Tony Stewart officially joined Twitter this weekend. We could not be more excited about this -- right, team of nervous PR reps charged with painstaking and arduous task of monitoring his feed 24 hours a day?
NASCAR Tweets Of The Week