CONCORD Jamie McMurray didn’t want to leave Charlotte Motor Speedway early Saturday.
So McMurray felt a huge sense of relief when he won the Sprint Showdown and qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race that would follow later that night.
“If you’re a Sprint Cup racer and you can’t get in the race, you really want to be a part of it,” said McMurray, who hasn’t won an official Cup race since 2011 but had six all-star appearances prior to Saturday. “It’s hard to drive out of here and go home and watch it on TV. So it means a lot.”
McMurray was joined in the all-star race by two rookies: runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, who finished ninth but got in by winning a fan’s vote.
McMurray started on the front row with pole-winner Martin Truex Jr. He quickly moved to the front, passing Truex on the first lap and holding the lead for the rest of the 40-lap race (which was broken in to two 20-lap segments).
While McMurray stayed a safe distance ahead of the pack, Truex faded and Stenhouse, who had started fourth, rolled past him into the second spot.
“It was really cool getting in (the all-star race) through the showdown,” said Stenhouse, who won the 2011 and ’12 Nationwide championships. “We’ll take second and give ourselves an opportunity to keep working on it and see if we can’t figure out some things for for (next week’s Coca-Cola 600). The more laps for me, the better for me in a Cup car.”
Jeff Burton finished third and Paul Menard was fourth, with Truex dropping to fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya, Aric Almirola, Travis Kvapil, Patrick and Casey Mears rounded out the top 10.