Brant James
Sunday May 22nd, 2011

It lacked high drama, but at least it was nice and long. The annual Sprint Cup All-Star Race may not have provided many clues as to the tone of next week's Coca-Cola 600, but at least it rid Roush Fenway Racing of one of those pesky fast race cars.

1. Carl Edwards has too many celebrations. Back flip, OK. Unique. Maybe he wants to not become a prisoner to the trick like some latter-day Ozzie Smith, so he introduced his rush into the crowd. Combining both gets a little much.

Then Edwards attempted some sort of stage-diving move with the No. 99 Ford, hit a particularly pesky patch of grass and nearly rolled the thing but saved it with a sufficiently destroyed front. Edwards seemed embarrassed and the shop workers who will have to fix or dismantle it were likely a little deflated.

2. Kurt Busch is very much in need of a vacation or a new team. The 2004 Sprint Cup champion has been brutal in his mid-race rebukes of the cars he's been provided that last several weeks, but on Saturday night his ill humors skewed toward melancholy.

After being told rules forbade team from changing springs during the first intermission, he responded, "Yeah, 10-4. Just pack this s--- up." And just later, "I'm sorry guys, but I have just lost all composure on how to do anything right right now."

When informed of a pass-through penalty, after asking his spotter to change the way they play-call his approach to the pit box: "That's even more impressive. You want me to go behind the wall now?"

Eventually, Busch seemed to concede, radioing to his spotter, "Just kick your feet up. Grab a drink with an umbrella."

Oddly, Busch did rally from a lap down with the help of the free pass to finish 13th, but his malaise in his current situation shows no signs of improving. His Penske Racing team still does not appear to be providing him with race-winning cars as in the first few weeks of the season, when he had top-10s in the first four races and led in points for two weeks. But he seems incapable of helping work the team through the issues in a productive manner.

3. That Junior fellow is still quite popular. Perennial "most popular driver" Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named the final entry into the All-Star Race in a less-than-suspenseful pre-race announcement of a national fan vote.

That vote of confidence, although appreciated -- "I see it a whole lot different from this side of the fence than a lot of people do. I didn't take it for granted. I knew my fans were working really hard," he said. -- was perhaps not the most important of the evening. Team owner Rick Hendrick told reporters he hopes to re-sign Earnhardt Jr., who is in his fourth season at Hendrick Motorsports and has produced one win and one Chase for the Championship appearance.

"Whatever he said is probably true," Earnhardt Jr. said, drawing laughter. "We've been talking on the phone a little bit, just kind of saying what we think. I'm excited to be where I am. From my heart, it's an amazing organization. There's some great, great people there. I've learned a lot being around there. It's made me a better person.

"We still got a lot of things we would like to accomplish on the racetrack. If I get the opportunity to stick around, I'm definitely excited about that. We've just been talking about it. Hopefully I don't think we'll have any trouble working things out.

4. Despite what the TV talent asserted, $1 million was not enough to incite violence. Certainly, the All-Star Race has in the past excused bad behavior with the excuse of a large payday, but money plus "have at it" equaled little more than a long race with minimal action.

"Typically you see action on the restart. Somebody might spin their tires or something, somebody will try to plug the middle, bump somebody, all hell breaks loose," said runner-up Kyle Busch. "I don't know what happened behind me. Carl and I seemed to take off pretty good. We really didn't spin our tires. I couldn't tell you what happened behind me, how congested it got at all. From my vantage point, it was kind of a tame race today. I don't know what that one caution was for, but I think there were only one or two interruptions besides the normal cautions that we have in this race. Sorry, we didn't give you any scoop or drama."

5. Charlotte Motor Speedway is hosting the Super Bowl party. The new HD video board officially debuted at the track Saturday night is obscenely large -- 80 feet high by 200 feet long and bearing nine million LED lamps -- and for all we know might have delivered the equivalent of 200 chest X-rays to everyone in attendance. But it sure is cool. The public relations staff at CMS has always had an adventurous spirit, so why not a camp-out Super Bowl party? Bring your own franks. Just wave them at the video board, and they'll probably cook in 30 seconds.

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