In news that may be only surprising to those who were expecting to be raptured on Saturday night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the fan vote to get into the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Junior, the sport's most popular driver nine times running, hoped to race his way into the event by finishing first or second in the Sprint Showdown. He started 13th and eventually restarted the final 20-lap segment in fourth after electing not to pit after the first segment.
However, Junior wasn't exactly fast in that first segment and quickly got eaten up by the drivers behind him who took tires. After a quick caution in the first segment, Junior got tires before a restart with 14 laps to go, but didn't have time to get to the front.
And honestly, it wasn't a horrible strategy by Junior and crew chief Steve Letarte. It was all but a guarantee that he was going to win the fan vote and while getting in via his finishing position would have been a nice bonus, the No. 88 team didn't have to race like Paul Menard or Joey Logano did, banging fenders on a late-race restart.
In the Sprint Showdown, the qualifying race to get into the All-Star race for drivers not automatically qualified, the top two finishers and the highest vote-getting driver qualify for the All-Star race. David Ragan and Brad Keselowski were the two drivers that transferred via their finishing position.