After two 20-lap shootouts in the Sprint Showdown to decide who would secure a spot in the Sprint All-Star race, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer won the respective heats to lock up two of the 20 positions. Danica Patrick earned the final spot through the Sprint Fan Vote for the second time in her career.
Biffle did so in dominant fashion during the first segment, leading all 20 laps before pit road opened prior to the second heat. His win gave Roush Fenway Racing at least one car in the All-Star race for the 26th-straight season since 1990.
It’s been a rough year for Jack Roush’s team with neither Trevor Bayne or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. living up to expectations yet. But with Biffle advancing to Saturday night, even in an exhibition, RFR can finally take some confidence away from this weekend.
Roush Fenway wins its first race of the year! Biffle parade laps the first segement of Showdown to move into All-Star race.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) May 15, 2015
While the first race saw Biffle blow through the field, the second was much more entertaining. Martin Truex Jr. started off the second leg with the lead after taking two tires, but it was Bowyer who came off the pits with four fresh tires and charged back up to the front.
The win for Bowyer was his second consecutive victory in the Sprint Showdown. He’ll try to finish better than his ninth-place result from the 2014 season.
“We took four tires, so I had to go for it from the start,” Bowyer said on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast. “After the year I’ve had, shoot, I felt like going back out there and doing a burnout. … I’m proud of all of the guys.”
Following the race, Patrick found out she would earn a spot into the race through the Fan Vote. She’s the first driver to earn a spot two times and earned the spot by the slimmest margin ever recorded, according to NASCAR.
Chase Elliott, a part-time driver for Hendrick Motorsports this season, didn’t quite have the night he hoped for during the Showdown. The 19-year-old finished fifth and will not have a chance to race in his first All-Star race.
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) May 15, 2015
What he did come away with is more crucial experience. Set to run at Iowa on Sunday before returning for both the Xfinity Series race and the Coca-Cola 600 next weekend in Charlotte, Elliott can lean on the fact that he has some competitive experience at the intermediate track.
Elliott comes away with crucial learning moments, but the big winners were Biffle and Bowyer. With both drivers and their teams having some tough luck this year so far, they can all breathe a sigh of relief leading up to Saturday night.