Harvick Holds Off Field For Million Dollar Payday Winning Nascar Nextel All-Star Challenge

CHARLOTTE, N. C. — Kevin Harvick saved the best for last Saturday night and held off hard-charging Jimmie Johnson to win the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe?s Motor Speedway.

Harvick took the lead on the 61st of a total of 80 laps around the 1-1/2-mile Lowe?s Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch provided plenty of fireworks as the final segment started, easing below brother Kurt Busch in the first turn. Kyle lost the handle on his Rick Hendrick Chevrolet and spun, collecting brother Kurt in the process.

Harvick, who ran in the top five throughout the four-segment event, literally drove the wheels off his Richard Childress Chevrolet to stay in front of Johnson, who was breathing down his tailpipes the final 10 laps.

Everybody’s favorite Mark Martin finished third with Harvick teammate Jeff Burton fourth. Tony Stewart battled an ill-handling car all night but wrestled his Home Depot Chevy to fifth place.

Rounding out the top 10 were Johnny Sauter, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Jeff Gordon finished 11th after a flat tire forced him into the pits. He was running with the leaders when misfortune struck.

Kenseth, who had his Jack Roush Ford up front much of the night, had to go to the rear of the field after speeding on pit road before the start of the final dash.

Harvick ran the low line on the track with Johnson in tow for the final laps. Johnson tried every trick he could think of to pass the smooth-driving Daytona 500 winner but fell short by a car length.

In the first segment with Johnson several car lengths back. Hamlin was charging through the field and so was Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin slowed, however, and lost several positions as the field stretched out around the track.

Gordon took over second after 19 laps.

At the end of the first 20-laps, it was Kenseth, Gordon, Johnson, Harvick, Burton, Newman, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Kasey Kahne and Hamlin.

Kyle Busch stayed on the track at the end of the first segment and led every lap of the second 20-lap run. Gordon pitted along with others but eventually made his way back to second at the end of 40 laps.

The most impressive drive of the first two runs was made by Johnny Sauter, who finished second in the preliminary NEXTEL Open race to gain a starting position in the all-star event. Sauter started the race at the rear of the field but zoomed into contention by the end of the second segment. Sauter was the talk of pits when the field made a halfway stop. He was in seventh place behind Kyle Busch, Gordon, Harvick, Kenseth, Burton and Martin.

Trailing Sauter in eighth was Johnson, who started the second session well back after a pit stop. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10 at the halfway point.

Kyle Busch bobbled at the start of the third 20-lap segment and went back to fourth place. Bobby Labonte brought out the first caution of the clear, cool night when he smacked the wall after 41 laps. Kenseth went back out front and Gordon moved into second place.

Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Casey Mears had to go to the rear for speeding on pit road prior to the final 20-lap shootout. Gordon was the leader when the flag fell on the final segment.

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