CONCORD, N.C. – From the drop of the green flag the 29-car field knew it was go time and put on one heck of a show for the fans. With the field set by qualifying draw, a number of fast cars started at the rear of the field with some slower cars up front. As guys like Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards made their way forward, Max Papis, Kevin Conway and Reed Sorenson backed up stacking up the field.
Out front, Roush Fenway Racing’s David Ragan led all 20 laps of the first segment as he was able to hold off teammate Greg Biffle. Behind them AJ Allmendinger, Burton, Montoya and Regan Smith raced hard to get in a position to transfer after the second segment.
Montoya and Smith battled hard lap after lap for the fifth spot. Neither driver budged as they ran door-to-door. Over the radio, Montoya complained Smith was holding him up and Smith refused to give the No. 42 an inch. Once Montoya was finally gets inside of Smith, he moved up the track to make the line into turn 1, but Smith was still there. The two made contact, sending Montoya hard into the outside wall and ruining both of their chances at a berth in the Sprint All-Star Race.
“I didn’t even get to the corner and he wrecked us,” Montoya said over the radio.
“The replay in my head says that he (Montoya) wasn’t clear and he was trying to take some space that wasn’t his,” Smith said. “In an event like this, you aren’t going to give that up. I’m sure he has a different opinion.”
With caution laps counting in the first segment the field opted to hit pit road for service on lap 18. Staying out on the track was race leader Ragan, teammate Biffle and David Gilliland. With the rest of the field coming in for service, Biffle felt he was a sitting duck on the restart.
The caution served as the break between the segments and once the second segment got underway the action picked up early. Biffle quickly took the lead from his teammate as Gilliland dove under Ragan for second in turns 3 and 4. Unable to hold the car down on the bottom, Gilliland drifted up the track into Ragan as Truex Jr. scooted by on the bottom.
As the No. 38 and No. 6 made their way into the tri-oval, they were not done wrecking. Allmendinger went to the bottom making it three-wide, Ragan and Gilliland made contact again, sending the No. 38 hard into the outside wall and bringing out the caution once again.
It was clear sailing to the finish after the Showdown restarted on lap 21. Charging hard after Biffle, who was on old tires, Truex was able to make the move to the lead on lap 33 of 40. As laps clicked away, Truex drove away from Biffle to score the win and transfer into the night’s main event.
“We knew it would be a challenge coming in,” Truex said. “Having to start back there we knew it would be challenging. On these big tracks the dirty air is really, really tough.”
Making adjustments and taking two tires on his pit stop, Truex benefited when Ragan and Gilliland tangled ahead of him.
“They had a little bit of a skirmish down there with the [No.] 38… that helped us open the door,” Truex added. “Once we got up there and got some clean air our car got really good.”
Running the entire 40-lap Showdown on the same set of tires, Biffle also transferred into the night’s main event by coming home second. Receiving the Sprint Fan Vote, Edwards was also able to transfer despite a 10th-place finish.
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