Not entered in the Sprint All-Star Race for the first time since 2010, Clint Bowyer made sure he was going to find his way into Saturday's main event.

The driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota was one of the fastest cars in the Sprint Showdown field, battling hard with AJ Allmendinger for the lead in the first 20-lap segment, then dominating the second 20-lap segment to score the win.

By winning Friday night's race, Bowyer qualified for his sixth Sprint All-Star Race.

"There aren't that many sporting events in the world that pay a million bucks to win, it's nice to have a shot at it tomorrow night," Bowyer said. "I always said if you can race your way into the All-Star Race do it this way, it's just another night of practice that we don't have for the All-Star Race."

Starting the night in the second spot, Allmendinger led the majority of the opening 20-lap segment, but lost the lead to Bowyer with one lap to go before the segment breaks.

 

 

Unable to chase down Bowyer in the second segment, Allmendinger finished the night in second, also transferring into the Sprint All-Star Race.

"It's impressive," Allmendinger said. "It's going to be a tough road coming from tonight to tomorrow and trying to make the car better. I've definitely got to get it better to have a chance to win. It's just a tough little team that keeps fighting. We keep getting better."

In an upset, Josh Wise won the Sprint Fan Vote, thanks in part to his support from the Reddit community and Dogecoin, the online currency that helped fund his car for Talladega Superspeedway.

FOX Sports televison commentator Mike Joy reported that one fan voted 84,000 times for Wise.

Austin Dillon and Allmendinger led the field to the green flag, and it didn't take long for the action to pick up.

The first caution of the night flew when Marcos Ambrose and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact in Turn 1. Ambrose's No. 9 Ford slid up the track, with his Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola slipping by on the outside. Making an amazing slide, Ambrose was able to keep the car off the wall and avoid further damage.

 

 

On the ensuing restart, Kyle Larson missed a shift and dropped outside the top 15. Restarting on the outside of row one, Bowyer spun the tires and also stacked up the field, but was able to maintain the second spot.

After dropping back, Larson reported to his Chip Ganassi Racing crew that he had lost third gear in the No. 42 Chevrolet. While that made restarts more difficult for the rookie driver, it certainly didn't slow him down.

As the race closed in on the end of the first segment, Bowyer put the pressure on Allmendinger, taking the race lead on the final lap of the first segment.

When the field hit pit road, Michael Annett stayed on the track, while a number of teams opted for four tires. Taking a different approach, Dillon, Paul Menard, Allmendinger and Danica Patrick only took two tires.

Leading the field to the green flag to kick off the second segment, Annett spun the tires as the field scurried to get around him and work their way to the front.

With two tires, Dillon was able to get the top spot, but was unable to hold off Bowyer, who took the lead on Lap 23. From there on out, Bowyer set the pace as the rest of the field battled for the second transfer spot.