The Sprint Showdown offered two memorable finishes and one blowout Saturday.
Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson were the winners of the three-segment race and will transfer to Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race. Chase Elliott, who finished second in photo finishes in the first and third segments, joined Danica Patrick in advancing to the main event by a fans’ vote.
Bayne took advantage of a spin by Michael McDowell late in the first segment to earn his spot. He started fourth on the restart, behind Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, who had been dueling for the lead for most of the first 18 laps. With one lap remaining, Blaney shot between Elliott and Blaney, beating Elliott to the finish line by .005 of a second.
“I was thinking about what I could do and I timed the restart really good and got right to (Blaney’s) bumper at the line and was able to get three-wide off of turn two,” Bayne said. “The car was pretty good there.”
Blaney was penalized on the restart, and had to start the second segment from the rear.
Biffle, who changed two tires during the caution period, changed two more between segments. That allowed him to cruise to a second-segment victory by nearly two seconds over Larson.
“Brian Pattie is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport and it was his call,” Biffle said of the decision to take the two tires during the first-segement caution. “ 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.”
Larson had control of the third segment until Elliott tracked him down with two laps remaining. Elliott tried to get past Larson coming off Turn 4 of the 10th and final lap. The two bumped each other down the backstretch, Larson winning by a hair.