Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't won a Sprint Cup race since claiming his last points-paying win at Michigan in 2008. Saturday's Sprint Showdown doesn't count in the record books, but a win in the preliminary to tonight's Sprint All-Star Race would no doubt be a boost for Earnhardt and his fans. He's halfway there after leading every lap of the opening 20-lap segment of the race.
Martin Truex Jr. dueled with Earnhardt side by side for the first lap and a half before the Hendrick Motorsports driver pulled away. Truex remained second for the rest of the segment. Jeff Burton was third, ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola.
Jamie McMurray, who started dead last in the Showdown after having to make adjustments to his car after qualifying, tore through the field to be scored sixth at the completion of lap 20.
Polesitter A.J. Allmendinger's left front tire went flat on the pace laps, forcing him to follow pace car driver Brett Bodine down pit road before the start of the race. Despite the pit stop, Allmendinger remained on the lead lap and turned lap times consistently as quick or quicker than Earnhardt, validating his pole run.