Jamie McMurray took the lead on the first lap in the NASCAR Sprint Showdown on Saturday night and never looked back.
McMurray, who started the event in second, assumed the lead from Martin Truex Jr. and led all 40 laps. Despite restarting second for the final 20-lap segment after the pit stops during the break between the racing segments, McMurray easily passed Casey Mears, who elected not to pit at the halfway point.
Both McMurray and second-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. transferred to the All-Star Race.
Despite winning the Showdown and qualifying for his seventh All-Star race, McMurray said “something didn’t feel right” as he pulled into the pits. In the second segment, he developed a vibration. Despite the gremlin, McMurray acknowledged, “This car has so much grip, it’s a lot of fun to drive.”
McMurray’s best finish in the All-Star race was ninth in 2009.
Stenhouse, who will make his All-Star debut, described the experience as "real cool".
“Hopefully, we can be in the All-Star Race every year," Stenhouse said. "Hopefully, we don’t have to keep coming through these Showdowns, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. I’m definitely excited about it. We’re ready to go.”
Danica Patrick won the 10th annual Sprint Fan Vote. In her Showdown debut, Patrick finished ninth in the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy.
"It's a big honor," Patrick said. "This is for the fans. God, I'm going to sound really cheesy right now. I'm going to race for the fans tonight because I really, really -- I got done with that race and honestly I feel really fired up. I wanted to make passes and make my way up and do what I could to get into those first two positions and didn't do that, and I feel like I owe it to them to put on a good show or a better show in the All-Star Race.
"My good team here made something -- I didn't know they made it, so I don't want this to sound like I'm coming up with this all on my own, but they knew how good my fans were and I knew how hard they worked, so we made a 'Thanks, fans,' sign to put on the car just in case I won (the vote), so thank you, Team Danica and Stewart-Haas. So that'll be on the car. Anyway, glad to be in the race."