By AMANDA VINCENT
Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick claimed spots for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, through the Sprint Showdown Friday night, also at Charlotte.
“I’m really excited,” Biffle said. “We’ve worked really hard and we had good track position. We qualified well. It seems like we’re getting our cars a little bit better.”
Biffle’s start Saturday night in the All-Star Race will be his 12th-straight start int he event.
Biffle only had to run half of the 40-lap Sprint Showdown, securing his All-Star Race slot by finishing the first of two 20-lap segments up front. Bowyer took over and finished up front, while Patrick claimed the Sprint Fan Vote slot.
After Paul Menard started on the pole, Biffle took the lead at the start of the race and ran up front for the duration of the caution-free first 20-lap segment.
With his Sprint All-Star start secured, Biffle was retired from the race before the second segment, leaving Bowyer as the top runner from the first segment remaining. After pit stops during the competition caution that separated the two segments, though, Bowyer restarted fifth on four tires. Martin Truex Jr., David Ragan, Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier restarted ahead of him on two.
“He (crew chief Brian Pattie) said take four tires, and I said, ‘Yea, okay,’” Bowyer said.
The only yellow flag other than the competition caution waved on lap 22 after a J.J. Yeley spin. Truex and Larson battled for the lead on the restart, but it wasn’t long before Bowyer expanded the race for the lead into a three-wide battle and took the spot.
Menard, also on four tires, worked his way up to second by the finish. Truex was able to maintain third, while Sam Hornish Jr. and Chase Elliott were fourth and fifth at the end of segment two and the checkered flag.
With her Sprint Fan Vote win, Patrick became the first driver to claim the honor twice, with this year’s vote being the closest since the inception of the Fan Vote. She finished the Sprint Showdown in the ninth spot.
“I’m so lucky. I have so many great fans,” Patrick said. “The fans came through, and they really always do for me.”
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner