Clint Bowyer won and A.J. Allmendinger finished second in the 40-lap Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday evening and A.J. Allmendinger finished second to claim two of the three spots up for grabs in Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race, also at Charlotte.
“I’m proud of my whole 47 race team hear and at the shop,” Allmendinger said. “We’re not quite where we wanted to be, yet. The 15 car (Bowyer) was a little bit better than us.”
Josh Wise was the surprise who claimed the third transfer spot by virtue of a fan vote. Even Wise was surprised.
“What in the world?” Wise responded when asked about receiving the most fan votes.
Bowyer and Allmendinger were the class of both 20-lap segments that made up the Shootout. Allmendinger led most of the first segment after taking the lead from pole sitter Austin Dillon at the start of the race. Bowyer quickly got to second in the first segment and challenged Allmendinger for the lead through most of the segment before taking the lead shortly before the yellow flag that ended segment one.
Bowyer was among the drivers who elected to take four tires during the break. Michael Annett stayed out to restart the race in the lead, while Dillon, Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Danica Patrick were the first four off pit road with two new tires.
As Annett dropped back through the field when the race resumed, Allmendinger quickly got up to second. Soon after, Bowyer took second and both he and Allmendinger got by Dillon for first and second. Dillon wound up backsliding as Bowyer and Allmendinger pulled away and Ambrose took over the third spot.
“It’s going to be a helluva lot harder to race for a million bucks (in the All-Star Race),” Bowyer said. “That was about as good a handling car as we’ve had all year.”
By the end, Bowyer had built up a large cushion over second-running Allmendinger, and Allmendinger was far ahead of third-place Ambrose. Late in the second and final segment, Casey Mears got by Ambrose to finish third.
Ambrose finished fourth after spinning on lap two in segment one. Rounding out the top-five was Aric Almirola. Fan vote winner Josh Wise finished 28th out of 23 cars.
– Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images