CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won the Sprint Showdown to race his way into the $1 million All-Star race.
Greg Biffle finished second to claim the other transfer spot into Saturday night’s main event. Carl Edwards also moved into the All-Star race by winning the fan vote.
Truex twice before used the preliminary race to make his way into the All-Star race. He advanced by winning the fan vote in 2005, and by winning the qualifier in 2007.
“In 2007, I think it was really big for us,” he said. “It kind of catapulted our season.”
Truex won his only career Cup race two weeks later at Dover, and gained momentum through the summer to earn his only appearance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“Hopefully this will kind of be the same start for us as a team,” said Truex, who is in his first season driving a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.
This will be Truex’s fourth appearance in the All-Star race, and his best finish was 10th in 2007.
The Showdown was for all drivers not already qualified to compete in the All-Star race. It featured 29 drivers racing for two spots, with a third eligible to gain entry by fan voting.
Over 1 million fans voted for their favorite driver, and Edwards promised to put on a show as thanks for his selection.
“Man, I’m going to drive like an idiot out there,” Edwards said.
The Showdown was divided into two 20-lap segments, and the first was marred by an accident between Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith.
Montoya, who had the fastest lap before Friday night’s qualifying was rained out with four drivers remaining, blamed Smith for the accident. He also noted that they would not have been racing around each other if the field had been set by qualifying and not a blind draw. He went from first to 14th on the starting grid, while Smith started 11th.
“That’s what happens when you start by a lottery and not by performance,” said Montoya, “and he doesn’t have any.”
Smith didn’t think he did anything wrong.
“I don’t know, I haven’t seen a replay,” he said. “The replay in my head says that he wasn’t clear and he was trying to take some space that wasn’t his. In an event like this, you aren’t going to give that up. I’m sure he has a different opinion.”