By anyone's definition this year's edition of the All-Star Race may not have been a classic. Then again, it could have been worse and fans could have been subjected to something along the lines of the NFL Pro Bowl or the NBA All-Star Game with guys just going through the motions in some watered-down version of a game that few are invested in.
Here is a look back at the winners and losers of the 2013 All-Star Race:
First and foremost, Chad Knaus guided Jimmie Johnson to his record fourth All-Star Race victory. But the catalyst for that win was a decision Knaus made earlier in the week to replace both tire changers along with a tire carrier after continued slow stops had hampered the 48 team in recent weeks. That call proved pivotal when on the evening's final pit stops and needing a lightning stop to restart on the front row, the crew came through and moved their driver up to second. With favorable track position and in clean air, Johnson took care of business from there.
And afterward, in his post-race media session, Knaus hit on an idea that may save the All-Star Race. His suggestion of having two different compound tires was inspired -- though unlikely for myriad reasons. But if his plan is enacted it would likely result in a return of the high-drama, high-risk elements that have been absent from the All-Star Race for far too long.
Following another week where Kurt Busch was fast but failed to close, you would think he belonged on the other side of the winners and losers ledger. But considering the transformation Furniture Row Racing has undergone since his arrival, he deserves recognition for bringing a team that used to be satisfied with finishing in the top 10 to the verge of multiple wins. Although that breakthrough victory maybe should have come Saturday night, it speaks volumes that the former Cup champion was again in contention and disappointed to have finished fifth.
Needing to race his way into the All-Star Race, Jamie McMurray did just that by leading all 40 laps in the Sprint Showdown. And in the main event itself, only one other driver -- Jimmie Johnson, who started 18th and won -- was able to pass more cars as McMurray climbed from his 20th starting position to eighth.
The All-Star Race
It's not for lack of effort, that's for sure, as NASCAR did its best to devise a format that would generate good racing throughout the night. And on some level it worked as drivers could no longer sandbag and were forced to compete hard for every position on the track.
However, through a combination of a cool track with lots of grip and minimal tire wear along with an aero-sensitive car, the 2013 All-Star Race didn't live up to the hype. And while there is some truth to the notion that the bar for this event is set unreasonably high, few would say this year's race came close to meeting even the minimalist of expectations.
Between having to deal with the suspension of his crew chief along with continued parts failures, it's been a trying month of May for the defending series champion. And it was more of the same in the All-Star Race where a broken transmission just two laps in sidelined Brad Keselowski before his night ever really got going.
In the lead and lined up in the preferred lane heading into the final segment, everything was in place for Kasey Kahne to win his second All-Star Race. But despite having these advantages he couldn't close, as he was unable to fend off a determined Johnson and then watched helplessly as his teammate motored away for the victory.