When it comes to burger chains, McDonald’s still reigns supreme — but new data shows Wendy’s has now overtaken Burger King for the runner-up spot in the US.

Food industry research firm Technomic reports Wendy’s had $8.5 billion in US sales last year, edging out Burger King’s $8.4 billion and giving the chain the late Dave Thomas founded in 1969 its very first second-place showing.

While those numbers may seem huge, they don’t come anywhere close to McDonald’s dominance — Americans spent $34.2 billion at the eateries with the golden arches in 2011. And internationally, Burger King has more restaurants than Wendy’s, so it held on to second place there.

But when the US sales in all restaurants — not just burger chains — were reviewed, the rankings shifted. Subway and Starbucks followed McDonald’s, with Wendy’s and Burger King in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Technomic’s 2011 sales report for the top 500 restaurant chains will be released April 13.

[Business Week]