CONCORD, N.C. (AP) _ Martin Truex Jr. scored a victory for Dale Earnhardt Inc., winning the Nextel Open on Saturday night to earn a spot in NASCAR's All-Star race.
Johnny Sauter finished second to also advance into the All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The Nextel Open is a 40-lap shootout for all drivers not already eligible for the All-Star race. The top two finishers and one other driver voted in by fans advanced to the main event. Kenny Wallace, who campaigned for votes on television, won the vote.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has lobbied for fans to vote for Truex and Paul Menard, his teammates at DEI. But Truex made sure he wouldn't need the fan vote by using a three-wide pass on pole-sitter Carl Edwards and Sauter to take the lead with three laps to go.
Truex slid up against the wall to squeeze his way into the front, taking the lead from Edwards, who had led the first 37 laps. It was the only lead change of the race.
``The only chance I had was to get to the top groove and get around Carl,'' Truex said. ``If I didn't get around Carl, then Johnny would have gotten by both of us. Awesome race, good job on my crew.''
Edwards, who had promised to donate all his winnings to charity, was disappointed.
``It's just so frustrating to have a lead like that and then just have the car get so tight, but that's the way it goes,'' Edwards said. ``It was just extremely, extremely tight. That's it. If I could make an adjustment, I'd raise the track bar 10 rounds. It was that tight.''
Juan Pablo Montoya lasted less than a lap in his first race at LMS, causing a six-car wreck when he tried to make a three-wide pass right after the start.
``Juan just went three wide right away. These tires are so hard, you can't be doing that,'' said Paul Menard, who was collected in the wreck.
Montoya acknowledged he was at fault.
``I just got a little loose,'' Montoya said. ``I touched (David Gilliland's car). I slowed down when he hit the wall, but I was right in front of him. Then two or three cars came straight to me.''