CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson used a calculated strategy Saturday night to win NASCAR's All-Star race and its $1 million prize for the third time in his career.
The five-time champion won the first 20-lap segment of the Sprint All-Star race, then rode around at the back of the field for the next 60 laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway. His plan was to stay out of trouble, and make his play for the win in the fifth and final segment.
The new format this year set it up so that the winners of the first four segments would be the first four drivers down pit road for a mandatory stop before the 10-lap sprint to the finish. Johnson's win in the first segment meant he was guaranteed to be the first driver down pit road, and he had the first stall -- the reward for his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team winning Thursday night's Pit Crew Competition.
The race was then just to beat everyone else off pit road, and Johnson did by edging Matt Kenseth across the line.
He then had a great restart, and pulled away to become just the third driver -- joining Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon -- to win three All-Star races. Johnson's other wins were in 2003 and 2006.
Brad Keselowski, winner of the third segment, had no chance to catch Johnson over the closing 10 laps.
"It's all about the restart," Keselowski said. "The high line on the restart just wouldn't go. I don't know if I would have been able to do anything, but I would have liked another shot."
Kenseth, winner of the second segment, finished third and was followed by Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the fourth segment and advanced into the All-Star race by winning the qualifying race earlier Saturday night.
Stenhouse at home in Iowa
NEWTON, Iowa -- With most of the NASCAR world focused solely on Charlotte and Saturday night's All-Star Race, the Nationwide series has the Iowa Speedway all to itself. As if Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. needed any more of an advantage at Iowa.
Stenhouse won both Nationwide races at Iowa's .875-mile oval in 2011, beating Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards in May and getting shoved across the line by Edwards in August after blowing his engine just yards from the checkered flag.
Stenhouse, the Nationwide points leader, will start third in today's race (2 p.m., ESPN. Elliott Sadler will start from the pole for the second time in three Iowa starts.