Johnson rewrites record books with 4th NASCAR All-Star win

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Jimmie Johnson became the first four-time winner in the history of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway, taking the lead from Kasey Kahne with eight laps to go in the final 10-lap segment and pulling away to a $1 million prize.

A second $1 million bonus that was to be handed out if one driver could win all five segments in tonight’s event did not materialize for Kurt Busch, who won the first segment but was unable to win the next one. That second segment was won by Kyle Busch, who would split the first four stints with his older brother (Kyle winning Segments 2 and 3, Kurt winning Segments 1 and 4).

With both Busch brothers notching the same average finish throughout the first four segments, Kurt won the tiebreaker with his Segment 4 win and led the field to pit road for a mandatory four-tire stop before the final 10-lap sprint to the finish. But a slow stop on his end sent him falling back to fifth, while Kasey Kahne and Johnson came out first and second, with Kyle in third and Joey Logano in fourth.

One lap after the green came back out for Segment 5, Johnson dueled with Kahne for the lead and after a brief fight, the five-time Sprint Cup champion made what would be the million-dollar pass on his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Johnson’s finishes in each segment were 15th, fifth, third, third and first.

“We had a fast car and I could pass cars,” Johnson told SPEED Channel afterwards. “I found my way up through there three or four times. And when we started on the front row for that last segment, I knew we had a good shot at it.”

In addition to breaking a tie with Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt for most All-Star Race victories, Johnson also became the second driver to ever win it back-to-back; the late Davey Allison was the first to do so back in 1991 and 1992.

Logano climbed two spots in the final segment to finish second, followed by Kyle Busch, Kahne and Kurt Busch. Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards completed the Top 10. Fan vote winner Danica Patrick was 20th and defending Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski was 23rd after his transmission broke just two laps into the race.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.