There were a number of firsts in Saturday night's 31st annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  After nine appearances, Denny Hamlin finally won the non-points event and the one million dollar first place prize that came with it.  It was the first All-Star victory for Toyota and the first All-Star win for Joe Gibbs Racing.

The race is run in five segments - the first four for 25 laps and the fifth a 10-lap shoot out.  Kasey Kahne won the first segment.  Brad Keslowski won the second and third while Kurt Busch took the fourth.

The race is open to all winners of races in the previous and current season, any former Sprint Cup champion, previous Sprint Cup All-Star race winners, the winner and 2nd place finisher of the Sprint Showdown and a driver voted in by the fans - this year it was Danica Patrick.

The real heroes of Hamlin's victory were his pit crew.  Their quick work during the pit stop before the final 10 lap shoot out allowed Hamlin to move up five spots for the restart.  Hamlin quickly moved out front and held on the rest of the way.

After starting last, Kevin Harvick finished second with Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth completing the Top 5.  It was likely the final All Star appearance for Gordon.  He was the last driver introduced before the race and when he entered the stage his wife, kids and parents were there to greet him, something he said was a complete surprise to him.  And so were the fans holding placards with the number 24 on it.

Next week's Coca Cola 600 also likely will be his last.  It's a race that holds special significance to him.  It's the first Cup race he won back in 1994 when he was 22-year old emerging star.

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