The fans ensured Chase Elliott will take part in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott was the Sprint Fan Vote winner, thus automatically qualifying for the event, per NASCAR.com.
The 20-year-old fell just short in the first and third segments during Saturday afternoon's Sprint Showdown. Trevor Bayne edged him out in Segment 1, and Kyle Larson traded some paint with Elliott en route to victory in Segment 3:
ESPN's Marty Smith was happy to see two of NASCAR's younger stars going at it on the track:
Marty Smith @MartySmithESPN
I have many concerns about NASCAR's future. But driving talent isn't one of them. That @KyleLarsonRacin v. @chaseelliott show was the stuff.2016-5-21 17:00:51
"I'm sure Chase is upset with me and has all of the reason in the world to be, but hey, we are racing for a million bucks, and I haven't had a chance to do that before," the 23-year-old Larson said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
Given the financial stakes—a $1 million purse—it's not hard to see why Larson was aggressive in pursuit of a first-place finish. A checkered flag in the All-Star Race would be a nice feather in the cap for a driver who's still looking for his first victory on the Sprint Cup circuit in his third full year.
Elliott has the chance to continue building on a strong rookie season. He has eight top-10 finishes and four top fives in 12 races, and he sits ninth in the Sprint Cup standings, well inside the Chase grid cutoff.
"Definitely really appreciate everybody voting and taking time out of their day to vote for us and get us in this race," he said, per NASCAR.com. ""
Danica Patrick finished in second place in the fan voting and qualified for the All-Star Race field as well.
All-Star qualifying begins Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The race will commence at 9 p.m. ET.
Denny Hamlin enters as the defending champion, while many eyes will be on Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick after their impressive starts to the 2016 campaign.