Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson rocketed to segment victories in an exhilarating Saturday afternoon Sprint Showdown, the prelude to Saturday night’s fender-banging NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick claimed the final two positions in the biggest all-star event in sports by being the top vote-getters in the Sprint Fan Vote.
Bayne held off Elliott – who started on the pole after the lineup was set by owner points – by .005 seconds in Segment 1, while Biffle benefitted from a late Segment 1 caution involving Michael McDowell that let Biffle pit for four tires and only take two fresh tires at the segment break. The extra track position and fresh Goodyear rubber helped Biffle claim Segment 2 by 1.525 seconds over Larson.
In a thrilling 10-lap Segment 3, Larson beat Elliott to the stripe in an outstanding door-to-door battle that saw Larson’s Chevrolet prevail by .016 seconds – easily one of the closest finishes in the history of the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Segment 1 Winner – Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Advocare Ford): “I don’t think I was sweating until lap 19. Ricky (teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) gave me a huge push. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t win the race. It’s good to have a teammate to do that even if it wasn’t helping him. We raced those 20 laps like it was for $1 million.”
Segment 2 Winner – Greg Biffle (No. 16 Cheez It Ford): “I’m interested in that $1 million tonight. The guys did a great job. We have been getting better and better. The pit crew won this race for us. They got us out third. We’re in the big race.”
Segment 3 Winner – Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet): “We had a good Target Chevy. I knew Chase (Elliott) was going to be good on four tires and I knew he was probably going to win the Fan Vote, so I knew I had to win because I wasn’t going to win the Fan Vote. I did what I had to do. I’m sure Chase is upset with me and he has all the right in the world to be. But, hey, it was for a million bucks.”
NASCAR Sprint Fan Vote Winner – Chase Elliott (No. 24 3M Chevrolet): “(Larson) did what he thought he had to do to beat us back to the line. That’s all there is to it. It’s good to be in the (NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race). I wish we could’ve raced our way in, but we’ve got some great fans. It was good to get some laps and know what not to do because I messed some things up there.”
NASCAR Sprint Fan Vote Winner – Danica Patrick (No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet): “I’m well aware that I have the best fans in this series and fan base as well. Yet again, my fans come through for me. What I want to do in a situation like this where I know the fans put me in the race, and every other weekend on the track, I want to do well for them. I want them to be proud to wear my t-shirt, display my flag, proud to be wearing my hat. We have that opportunity in the NASCAR Sprint All Star Race and I hope we do. There had to be a lot we learned about the car. Everybody did a good job. The car felt pretty good. Hopefully we will be good in the All-Star Race. It will be fun. The All-Star Race is one of those where things get shaken up with strategies and whatnot. I hope we can shake it up.”