Five drivers advance to All-Star Race after spectacular Showdown

Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson raced their way into the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Five drivers advance to All-Star Race after spectacular Showdown
Drivers advancing to All-Star race: Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Start: Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet leads
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford with his girlfriend and daughter
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Drivers advancing to All-Star race: Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet,

Chase Elliott, who started from the pole, and Danica Patrick won the fan vote.

All five drivers transferred into the main event.

Segment 1

Chase Elliott started from the pole and led the first 18 laps.

Elliott was being challenged from behind by Ryan Blaney when the race was stalled by Michael McDowell spun off of Turn 4 and into the grass on the front stretch. When the race returned to green on Lap 19 — for a one-lap shootout — Trevor Bayne, who had restarted behind the No. 21 — took Elliott (first) and Blaney (second) three-wide for the lead and held the point to the finish.

“We had a fast race car for no practice and no teammates in the earlier practice,” said Bayne, who started fifth. “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.”

Elliott finished second followed by Blaney, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and Kyle Larson. However, NASCAR penalized Blaney for jumping the restart and the No. 21 Ford was forced to restart 23rd for the second segment. Brian Scott restarted in the final spot (24th).

Segment 2

Greg Biffle credited his crew’s decision to take fresh left tires during the sole caution in the first segment and two right tires before the second segment that provided him with the necessary track position to win the race.

Biffle restarted sixth, but in the first lap he was able to race to second behind Dillon. Four laps into the contest, Biffle pulled to the inside of Dillon on the backstretch for the lead. By halfway, Biffle led the field by more than two-seconds at halfway. He was lapping cars and held on to a 1.525-second finish over Larson before winning the 20-lap segment to move on.

“Brian Pattie is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport and it was his call,” said Biffle, who led 16 laps. “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.”

AJ Allmendinger, Elliott, Aric Almirola and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-six finishers.

Segment 3

Larson led the field to the line in the third segment with Allmendinger alongside. But with four fresh tires, Elliott, who restarted 10th, quickly closed in on the leaders. After the first of 40 circuits, the No. 24 was third. He passed Allmendinger three laps later and set his sites on Larson.

On Lap 48, Elliott came up alongside Larson at the line. Elliott was credited for the lap but the No. 42 Chevy regained the lead. Elliott came back around one more time and the drivers traded paint out of Turn 4 and banged doors all the way to the checkered flag with Larson edging the No. 24 at the line by 0.016-seconds.

Blaney, who passed Allmendinger on Lap 46 for third, held the position. Aric Almirola was fourth, followed by Allmendinger, Landon Cassill and Clint Bowyer, who had won the last two Sprint Showdowns.

“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,” said 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.”

Following the race, Elliott’s spotter Eddie D’Hondt told crew chief Alan Gustafson that the team still advanced through the fan vote. After leading 19 — and the most laps of any of the 25 cars, Gustafson replied, “Yeah, that’s of little consolation.”

Elliott later acknowledged that Larson was simply racing for the win — no harm, no foul.

“He did what he thought he had to do to beat us back to the line,” Elliott said. “I had a really good run off of four. They made good adjustments throughout the race to get our car better. It really wasn’t that good through the mid stages and made a lot of gains.

“It’s good to be in the race, obviously, we had to be voted in. But we have some great fans.”

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