Two thrilling finishes for young drivers and a veteran proving his mettle. Despite a rainout on Friday night, NASCAR fans got exactly what they wanted on Saturday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The last two seasons have been frustrating for Roush Fenway Racing, but Saturday morning might have finally brought a breakthrough moment. Trevor Bayne pulled a risky move to win the first segment and Greg Biffle won the second segment for the second straight year. The third segment belonged to Kyle Larson, who pulled away early and held off Chase Elliott late.
Once a juggernaut in NASCAR, Roush had no cars locked into the Sprint All-Star Race before the start of the showdown. Bayne’s slick move promised a first car locked in as he overtook Chase Elliott on the final lap after the Hendrick driver led the first 19 laps.
Before Bayne’s move on Elliott, Biffle’s crew chief Bryan Pattie decided to change four tires during the lone caution in the opening segment. The move propelled Biffle to the front for the second race, where he took the lead early over Austin Dillon.
Pattie immediately told Biffle and the crew, “Hope nobody had dinner reservations!”
“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,” Biffle said. “… 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.”
After the huge wins for Roush, Larson showed his toughness on the final lap of the third segment. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was nearly passed by Elliott, but shoved the No. 24 car into the wall and held on for the victory.
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“Chase was on four tires and I was on really old left sides,” Larson said of the finish. “When he restarted ninth or 10th, I didn’t think he’d have a chance to get to me. But I knew he’d be the one guy I’d have to really battle with. … He was going to beat me if I hadn’t gotten into him.”
Not all was lost for Elliott, however, as he pulled out one of the Sprint Fan Vote spots along with Danica Patrick. Matt DiBenedetto, who had backing from Reddit and his fan base, missed out on the race despite finishing inside the top five in the fan vote.