McMurray, Stenhouse Jr. advance into all-star race

Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gained eligibility for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race after finishing 1-2 in Saturday night's Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

McMurray took the lead from pole sitter Martin Truex Jr. on the opening lap and then ran in front for the entire 40 laps in the preliminary event. He will start 20th in the 90-lap all-star race.

After the first 20-lap segment, McMurray and most of the other front runners pitted, while Casey Mears was one of those who elected to stay on the track. McMurray made a two-tire change and came out of the pits first.

Mears led the way for the start of the second 20-lap segment, but McMurray quickly passed him after the restart to take the top spot for good.

"My car was really balanced tonight, and the track has got a lot more grip than what we practiced with," McMurray said.

Stenhouse, a rookie in the Sprint Cup Series this season, finished 1.2 seconds behind McMurray to earn the 21st starting position in the all-star race. It will be his first appearance in it.

"We did the first part, and we're really looking forward to the all-star race," Stenhouse said. "It's very exciting. It was the first time running in the Showdown and making it out. That's good."

Jeff Burton placed third, followed by Paul Menard and Truex. Danica Patrick finished on the lead lap in ninth. Patrick is the favorite to win the fan vote, which gives that driver the last position in the 22-car field.