Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, and Kyle Larson used the Sprint Showdown to run in tonight’s Sprint All Star Race. Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick won the fan vote in order to advance. After being washed out yesterday, today’s Sprint Showdown showed intensity from the drivers to make tonight’s race.
In the first 20 lap segment, Trevor Bayne became the surprise winner upsetting Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney who were running one-two before the final one lap dash, after the caution waved with five laps to go.
In a Ford press release, Bayne stated, “We had a fast race car for no practice and no teammates in the earlier practice. My guys did a great job guessing where we should start at. The car was good in clean air, but in dirty air I just couldn’t go, so with one lap to go all you’ve got is the restart and I kind of treated it like it was for the win for the All-Star Race for a million bucks. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get in. I thought that would be our best shot. I got a good restart and off two there was a tiny hole and somehow our car got through it without getting beat up, so we’ll take it.”
When the caution flag flew in the first segment, Kyle Larson and others went ahead and took two tires because they knew that they would have to come down within two laps to take the mandatory two tires between segments. Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott started on the front row, but Blaney was black-flagged for jumping the restart. Bayne and Elliott battled it out on the final lap, leaving Bayne with a margin of victory of .005-seconds. During the segment break, Brian Scott was found to have a loose lug nut following the mandatory lug nut check after the pit stops.
The second segment started with Chase Elliott at the front, but once the segment started, he was tight, which caused him to drop in positions. Austin Dillon took the lead from Elliott. However, a possible tire issue occurred causing him to fall back, giving Biffle the race leader. Biffle was able to set sail to win the second segment.
Greg Biffle, being one of the few drivers to play the four tire strategy, explains the decision that ultimately led for him to win segment two. “Brian Pattie is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport and it was his call. I was skeptical of it, trust me, but I tell you what, what really made the difference was we made a chassis adjustment, two left side tires, the car was really fast the last single lap that we made under green and I was able to pass four cars in one lap. Then we came down and the guys ripped off a great two-tire stop like a lot of other cars did and got us out third. Really, that’s what did it. I was being as aggressive as I could be, and I knew it was 20 laps and I knew that was my chance. The 3 car was a little bit loose and so was I, but I made some adjustments on my driving style and was able to get by him.”
The third segment saw the momentum from Chase Elliott return, a momentum that was lost during the second segment. The last half of the 10-lap third segment saw Larson and Elliott battling for the lead. Coming off of turn four in the final lap, Elliott and Larson were neck and neck heading to the line. In a 2003 Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at Darlington style, Elliott and Larson were beating and banging, using the wall as the mediator. Larson was able to hold off Elliott to win the third segment.
“I knew (Elliott) was going to be good on four tires and was probably going to win the fan vote, so I knew I had to win because I knew I wasn’t going to win the fan vote,” Larson said. “So, I did what I could do. Hopefully, they can repair the right side good enough or we can pull out the backup — or whatever. "I’m sure Chase is upset with me. He has all the reason in the world to be but hey, tonight we’re going for a million bucks and I’ve never had a chance to do that before. Hopefully we can get this car back in victory lane and hold a big check later.”
Elliott and Larson are allowed to go to a backup car for the Sprint All Star race, according to NASCAR, if they cannot fix their cars.
Qualifying for tonight’s Sprint All Star Race will begin at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.
The Target Chevrolet will be a moving target for 42 racers on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Larson will lead the field to the green flag for the Gobowling.com 400 at the Pocono Raceway after setting a lap time of 49.063 seconds – a new track record. This is the 15th time in 2014 that a driver has broken a track record in 21 races.
Larson, making his 25th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award on Friday afternoon. With rain approaching during qualifying, the No. 42 team was able to improve from the fourth position during the first practice session of the weekend. In doing so, he becomes the first driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole award after graduating from the Drive for Diversity program. The pole award also locks Larson into the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona in February, and it is the second time this year that a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver will lead the field to the green flag.
“It seems like we are back on track, running inside of the top-10. Hopefully, all of that bad luck is out of the way and we can contend for some wins here. If we can get a win before the Chase – it would be great,” Larson said in a post-qualifying press conference.
Joey Logano barely missed out on Logano’s lap time by just .008 seconds. His runner-up starting position marks the sixth time this season that the No. 22 Ford will start on the front row. Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, will start in the third position after being the second quickest car during practice.
During qualifying, Carl Edwards slid up into the wall. The right rear quarter panel of the No. 99 car received cosmetic damage. Due to not being able to complete his second attempt, he will start 26th, which is his third worst start of 2014. Moreover, Edwards’ car also received minor damage while sliding through the infield grass.
“We got knocked out of the top-24 and I think we have a pretty good car here, but we went back out. It just got away from me off of (Turn) 2 and I just blew the rear tires off. We ran the right rear into the fence and then, we had just enough time – I thought we would come down and stab it into the water and get another run. I ran it into the dirt and that just added insult to injury. I don’t think it tore up the front end, but we do have some cosmetic damage in the right rear,” Edwards said after his qualifying run.
After making the second qualifying session by the skin of his teeth, Jimmie Johnson qualified his No. 48 Chevrolet in the 17th spot. Johnson started 20th in the June race at Pocono, but worked his way up through the field until he had a collision on pit road with Marcos Ambrose.
“We’re getting there. We’re getting better. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to that next round, but there is still a practice session tomorrow and then the race on Sunday. And we didn’t have a ton of speed in qualifying when we were here in the spring race, but we raced just fine. So, we clearly wish we were faster, but that’s just how it is,” Johnson said.
With 43 drivers entered for the 400-mile spectacle, no drivers missed the race.