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Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, Kyle Larson on top in Showdown

By
Amanda Vincent, The Sports Xchange
NASCAR's Trevor Bayne (6). UPI/Gary I Rothstein
NASCAR's Trevor Bayne (6). UPI/Gary I Rothstein | License Photo

CONCORD, N.C. -- The Sprint Showdown NASCAR Sprint Cup Series exhibition at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday was productive for Roush Fenway Racing, as Trevor Bayne and Greg Biffle won the first two segments of the three-segment, 50-lap race to advance to the Sprint All-Star Race. Kyle Larson won the final segment, a 10-lapper.

Meanwhile, Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick were the top-two vote-getters in the Sprint Fan Vote to also advance to the All-Star Race, scheduled for Saturday night at Charlotte.

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"I hate not to race your way in," Elliott said. "That's pretty frustrating on my behalf. I just didn't do a very good job. Regardless, it was great to have some great fans to get us in this race, because I couldn't get it done for us."

After winning segments, drivers dropped out of the event per a NASCAR rule, already earning spots in the All-Star Race.

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The Sprint Showdown originally was scheduled for Friday night, but rain throughout the day and into the night on Friday turned the event until a daytime Saturday affair.

Bayne took the lead on a restart with two laps remaining in the first 20-lap segment and drove on the segment win to become the first driver from the Showdown to claim a spot in the Sprint All-Star Race. Prior to Bayne's late-segment move to the front, Elliott was the only race leader after starting on the pole, with Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon running second and third until only in-segment caution in the first segment for a Michael McDowell spin with about five laps to go.

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"That was pretty cool," Bayne said. "That takes me back to Texas in 2011 in the Xfinity race when I restarted fourth and pushed Carl (Edwards) out before winning the race. I was thinking about what I could do, and I timed the restart really good and got right to the 21's (Blaney's) bumper at the line and was able to get three-wide off of turn two. The car was pretty good, there. In clean air, I was all right. I was a little concerned with dirty air, but I got a run and went through the middle. It was a little sketchy squeezing through that hole, but it worked."

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Biffle took a convincing win in the second segment after taking the lead about five laps in. Elliott started up front with Dillon and Biffle in second and third after between-segment, mandatory pit stops.

"Brian Pattie (crew chief) is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport, and it was his call," Biffle said of the decision to pit during a caution late in the first session for two tires and then taking the other two during a mandatory pit stop between the first two segments. "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 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."

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After running near the front in segment one, Blaney started segment two in the back after jumping a restart in the first segment. Dillon took the lead from Elliott on the restart to start the second segment and led only a handful of laps before Biffle took command. After Biffle took the lead, Larson moved into second and ran runner-up to Biffle for the remainder of the segment.

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Larson claimed the third segment win after a last-lap physical battle with Elliott. Blaney finished third after recovering from his restart-jumping penalty. Larson got off pit road after a mandatory two-tire stop before the start before the final 10-lap sprint to the finish. A.J. Allmendinger and Landon Cassill restarted second and third for the final segment. Elliott restarted 10th after taking four tires.

When the race restarted for the final time, Elliott, with the advantage of four new tires to others' two, quickly got up through the field. After working his way up to second, he closed on Larson in the final laps.

"We had a good Target Chevy," Larson said. "I knew Chase was going to be good on four tires, and he was going to win the fan vote, and I probably wasn't going to win the fan vote. So, I did what I could do."

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NOTES: With new rules for the Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Star Race for 2016, more drivers advanced from the Showdown to the All-Star Race than in years past. In previous years, the top-two finishers from the Showdown advanced to the All-Star Race, along with one fan vote winner. ... Rain at Charlotte Motor Speedway that canceled all on-track activity on Friday resulted in the Sprint Showdown starting grid being set by car owner points, putting Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon on the front row. ... Cars/drivers already in the Sprint All-Star Race got a very limited amount of practice time Saturday morning, but Sprint Showdown competitors ran their event with no practice. ... Drivers with points-paying race wins in 2015 or up to this point in 2016, along with previous All-Star Race winners and past Sprint Cup champions are already qualified for the Sprint All-Star, and therefore, did not compete in the Sprint Showdown. Twenty-five cars competed in the 2016 Sprint Showdown.

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