Earnhardt Jr., Allmendinger advance into all-star race

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger gained eligibility for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race after finishing 1-2 in Saturday's Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt Jr. led all 40 laps in the preliminary event. He will start 21st in the 90-lap all-star race.

"This is all about just going fast right out of the gate," Earnhardt Jr. said. "All the credit goes to the [No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team] for putting the car out on the line with a great setup underneath it.

Earnhardt Jr. has not won a Sprint Cup points race since June 2008 at Michigan. He won the all-star event at Charlotte during his rookie season in 2000.

Allmendinger had to battle back from adversity. Starting from the pole position, Allmendinger experienced a flat tire on the final pace lap and had to pit, allowing Martin Truex Jr. to lead the field to the green-flag.

After pitting again during a caution at the halfway point, Allmendinger quickly moved up to third and battled second-place runner Jamie McMurray with 10 laps remaining. Allmendinger passed McMurray for the position with less than two laps to go and pulled away from there.

"These guys on this team belong in this [all-star] race, and they deserve it more than I do," Allmendinger said. "I was going to do everything I could to get them in."

McMurray finished third, while Truex and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five.

Allmendinger will lineup in 22nd. Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, won the "fan vote" and earned the last starting position in the 23-car field.