Carl Edwards' car hardly looked like the rocket ship it was after 100 laps of racing - heck, it didn't have a scratch for most of the night.
Even in its wrecked, post-race condition, the No. 99 Aflac "Now Hiring" Ford Fusion was the first to cross the start/finish line during Saturday night's 27th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Leading 27 circuits in one of the tamest All-Star races in recent years, Edwards was a factor all evening, running in the top-five, stalking contenders like Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson during the early portions of the segments.
Like an eagle eyeing its prey, the 31-year-old racer applied the spur to his No. 99 Ford to the lead during the final laps of the segments, winning the last three with relative ease.
After crossing the line, disaster struck for the Columbia, MO native - during post-race celebration ceremonies.
Edwards' machine appeared to dip too low into the infield grass along the dogleg of the frontstretch, which caused severe front-clip damage that warranted a wrecker to push the wounded car into Victory Lane.
"You never know what comes from misfortunes and it was definitely unfortunate," Edwards said per AP Sports Writer Jenna Fryer's article. "Pretty wild twist of fate that we tore it up, but I'm going to have faith something good will come from it."
While the race appeared to be in the hands of Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch, especially in the early going, perennial contenders like Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Matt Kenseth lurked in the shadows for the lead.
However, even their cars weren't a match for Edwards, Biffle, and Busch, who have been stout on the 1.5-mile intermediates thus far in 2011.
Edwards noted how his strong motor from the Roush-Fenway Racing shop and great restarts contributed to his victory, saying, "The restart was good, and man, that thing, it really runs."
During the final segment which was 10 laps in length, Edwards got an especially great restart which essentially sealed the race for him, pulling away from the rest of the field with ease.
One racer who took notice of the relatively "calm" nature of the All-Star race was fourth-place finisher Tony Stewart.
"This was a pretty tame night, at least from the All-Star perspective," Stewart said.
The old saying that "the more things change, the more they stay the same" held true on Saturday night, with Roush-Fenway's Ford contingency of Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, and David Ragan showcased their prowess at the quad-ovals this season.
Despite their stranglehold on the 1.5-milers, next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 may present some excitement in terms of a fresh-face winner, despite the 100-lap event split up into four segments.
David Reutimann and his No. 00 Aaron's Toyota placed a respectable third-place in the race, showcasing some of the potential for the Michael Waltrip Racing team.
Additionally, Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin seemed to find some speed on Saturday night, placing seventh, which was a solid showing at a type of a circuit they've struggled at all season long.
Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet racers in Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon appeared to make some gains on the Roush-Fenway Fords, although poor restarts and slow pit stops ultimately cost them their shot at contending for the All-Star race win, placing 11th and 15th respectively.
Here's a look at the finishing order of the 27th running of the All-Star race at Charlotte, with manufacturer and team listed in parenthesis:
- Carl Edwards (Ford/Roush-Fenway)
- Kyle Busch (Toyota/Gibbs)
- David Reutimann (Toyota/Michael Waltrip)
- Tony Stewart (Chevy/Stewart-Haas)
- Greg Biffle (Ford/Roush-Fenway)
- Matt Kenseth (Ford/Roush-Fenway)
- Denny Hamlin (Toyota/Gibbs)
- David Ragan (Ford/Roush-Fenway)
- Kevin Harvick (Chevy/Childress)
- Ryan Newman (Chevy/Stewart-Haas)
- Jimmie Johnson (Chevy/Hendrick)
- Juan Pablo Montoya (Chevy/Ganassi)
- Kurt Busch (Dodge/Penske)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Chevy/Hendrick)
- Jeff Gordon (Chevy/Hendrick)
- Clint Bowyer (Chevy/Childress)
- Jamie McMurray (Chevy/Ganassi)
- Brad Keselowski (Dodge/Penske)
- Mark Martin (Chevy/Hendrick)
- Regan Smith (Chevy/Furniture Row)
- Kasey Kahne (Toyota/Red Bull)
Next Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit hits up the 24-degree banked turns of the Charlotte Motor Speedway again for the 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600, which is a Memorial Day weekend tradition in stock car racing.
Kurt Busch looks to return to Victory Lane, even with his recent struggles with his fledgling No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge team - he hasn't been to the winner's circle since winning this race.
Meanwhile, Roush-Fenway Racing looks to capture yet another 600-miler and 1.5-mile race event and there's a distinct possibility that any of of their four racers could capture the checkered flag.
What will unfold at "The Beast of the Southeast?" That remains to be seen, but the action resumes at Charlotte starting this Thursday, with SPEED covering Sprint Cup practice around 3:30 PM ET and qualifying at 7:10 later that evening.