Jamie McMurray took care of business in the Sprint Showdown Saturday night winning the race handily to propel him into one of the three available spots for the Sprint All Star field to race for a potential $2 million payout.
The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet started on the front row next to pole sitter Ryan Truex Jr. and once he passed him he showed he had the dominant car as he was the leader at every ten lap segment including the 20th when the yellow came out for all teams to pit.
“Obviously being up front is important,” McMurray said about winning the Showdown knowing he will start in the rear for the All Star race. “It’s going to be really hard to pass cars. I think pit strategy is going to be important. Track position is going to be the key. But the clean air is so much more important when you get out in front, so we’ll have to see what happens. It is crazy the grip the car has when you’re out in front.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.in the No 17 Best Buy Ford also transferred in by virtue of his second place finish in the Showdown after starting fourth. He was also very consistent running third for the first pair of ten-lap segments and second over the final two including the checkered flag.
“That was pretty cool getting through the Showdown,” he said. “We wanted gto win that thing. I thought we had a car yesterday that was capable of running up front for the lead , but we’ll take second and give ourselves an opportunity to keep working on it and see of we can figure out some things for next week.” That will be the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.
Not surprisingly and with Dale Earnhardt Jr. already in the Sprint All-Star race, Danica Patrick and her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet got the final spot based on her first place finish in the Sprint Fan Vote. The polarizing 31-year old, who is in her first full Sprint Cup Series season, received a mixed fan reaction when she was introduced before the race.
“First and foremost, thank you to all the fans who voted for me,” she said in her opening remarks in the media center. “I’m very fortunate to have the fan base that I do and I never forget that. Thanks to the Sprint Fan Vote. I owe it to them to put on a good show in the All-Star race so we have a “Thanks Fans” sign to put on the car just in case I won. So thank you Team Danica and Stewart-Haas.”
Sprint Showdown notes: Three cars received penalties for the mid-point caution. Juan Pablo Montoya was caught speeding exiting the pits and would ultimately cost him two spots where he finished sixth. The No. 33 of Landon Cassel was nabbed for having crew members over the wall too soon. He wound up 16th. Finally, Brian Keselowski, the brother of defending Sprint Cup champion Brad, was also caught speeding. He wound up 19th, four laps down.
The Sprint All Star race was red flagged after just nine laps of the first segment. There is no estimate when the race will resume.