by NASCAR Wire Services
|Legends are made of the kind of night Kyle Busch had Saturday (Getty)|
The victory was Busch's first in the season-opening exhibition race contested in two segments of 25 and 50 laps. His winning margin over Stewart was .013 seconds.
New Gear for 2012!
Marcos Ambrose recovered from a pair of wrecks to finish third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.
Stewart had just taken the lead on Lap 74 of a scheduled 75 when a violent wreck in Turn 4 sent Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet barrel-rolling through Turn 4 and sliding on its roof toward the entrance to pit road.
Gordon was following Kyle Busch on the backstretch, and contact between the cars turned Busch's down onto the apron. Busch made a dramatic save for the second time in the race, but Gordon slid up the track into the Chevrolets of Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray.
As all three cars contacted the outside wall, Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet nosed beneath the right rear bumper of Gordon's car and turned it upside down.
The wreck left 11 cars on the lead lap and sent the race to overtime.
A close call for Kyle Busch on Lap 48 strung the field out, leaving a 10-car pack fighting for the lead. Busch's Toyota twice turned sideways off the bumper of Johnson, and twice Busch saved the car from calamity despite running onto the apron in Turn 2.
The complexion of the race changed dramatically on Lap 55, when a chain-reaction wreck that started with contact between the cars of pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr., Ambrose and Joey Logano clobbered those three vehicles and eliminated Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth.
The resulting fourth caution of the race bunched the field for a restart on Lap 62, with Greg Biffle in the lead, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Gordon and Johnson and reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Stewart.
The race was barely eight laps old when contact from David Ragan's Ford turned Paul Menard's Chevrolet and ignited a multicar wreck that also damaged the cars of Kasey Kahne, Hamlin, Kenseth, Juan Montoya, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Burton and Gordon.
Earnhardt, who had led the first three laps, had just regained the top spot on Lap 8 and was out in front when the wreck erupted behind him. The crash sidelined Menard, Ragan and Waltrip and knocked Hamlin and Kahne off the lead lap. Burton also fell of the lead lap during the first 25-lap segment when he pitted under green with a cut tire.
"Everybody was real racy and I just got into the back of Menard," Ragan said after exiting his car. "You get a good run, and you're pushing a little bit, and I guess he was pushing whoever was in front of him. And when you've got the meat in between the sandwich, you usually get wrecked."
McMurray was at the front of the field when NASCAR called the competition caution after Lap 25. Gordon, undeterred by minor damage to his car, was second, followed by Harvick, Kyle Busch and Ambrose.
Bud Shootout Results
DRIVER QUOTES FOLLOWING BUD SHOOTOUT
|Newman's daughter wishes good luck before race (Getty)|
WHAT TYPES OF THINGS DID YOU LEARN HERE TONIGHT? WHAT TYPES OF THINGS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO AS WE CONTINUE ON INTO SPEEDWEEKS? “That is a lot more fun racing like this than the two-car stuff. You are still going to see it at the end of the race I think. The good thing is it is a lot more fun running in the traditional pack than what we have had here in the past so I am looking forward to it. It is going to be a fun week.”
|Harvick got tangled up in one of the wrecks (Getty)|
IS THAT ONE OF THE BIG LESSONS? WHAT OTHER THINGS DID YOU BRING OUT OF TONIGHT’S RACE? “I think the biggest problem is the tandem racing has been so easy for these guys to stay attached that some of them haven’t raced in pack racing. You get those big runs and things are going to happen a lot faster than they used to. They are just going to have to be a little more patient.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR
|Junior thinks the racing is similar to years ago (Getty)|
DALE WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACING OUT THERE TONIGHT? DO YOU LIKE IT? DO YOU LIKE THE CHANGES? “I like it better. The closing rate is a little fast. Guys will go flying backwards and forwards. I think we made a lot of great improvements don’t get me wrong. I think we have really made a lot of great improvements and I have more of my destiny in my hands in this type of racing.”
YOU LOOKED REALLY COMFORTABLE: “I was feeling really good and really happy with the way things were going. I felt like I was doing a good job. I felt like I had control of my race and had potential to win the race if I made all the right moves. That is all I can ask for.”
DOES THIS REMIND YOU OF PACK RACING TWO, THREE, FIVE YEARS AGO? “ This is real similar to when we first put the blades on the roofs. These cars that we have now have a really big greenhouse. There is just a massive closing rate. When you get bogged down guys can just fly around you. You just really have to be on your toes because somebody can get into you pretty quick. There is really no place for blocking anymore. Juan (Pablo Montoya) just about wrecked the whole field there on the front straight-a-way. When guys got runs on me, I just pointed them to a lane, so they knew where they could go safely and we would race it out. I would get them back if I could. I really wasn’t sure I would put anybody, when the closing rate is that fast, to see some part of the race track to the guys coming onto you. You can’t just be blocking like hell.”
HOW MUCH BETTER DO YOU FEEL NOW ABOUT YOUR CHANCES IN THE DAYTONA 500 THAN YOU DID THE OTHER DAY? “I like this kind of racing better. At least I know what to expect. I feel like I have a better chance with this style than I did last year for damn sure.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN THE DAYTONA 500? IS IT GOING TO BE CHAOTIC? “A lot of the same. Maybe being 500 miles guys might use a little better judgment, but I wouldn’t count on it. It is a heavy duty race. It is a pretty big deal to win and its going to be a lot of guys pretty excited about their prospects of winning it. Still pretty much any car can win. The lotteries still there for the whole field. We will just see how it works out. I think you will see some things happen throughout the rest of the week. I don’t know if this is exactly how we are going to go in. We are all running pretty warm. Guys were pushing water even when they weren’t tandem out there. We might have to look at where we are temperature wise in pack drafts and see if we’ve got enough give room to not be pushing all the water out. It is 15-20 degrees warmer during the day racing in the 500 and the 125’s and stuff. We will see how that goes, the 150’s or whatever they are.”
|Busch was charging hard when the wreck found him|
ON TONIGHT’S RACE: “We had a great car tonight and thought we really had a shot to win this thing. The Bass Pro Shops Chevy was in the wrong place at the wrong time at the end and we got collected up in the mess. Hopefully we’ll have some better luck next weekend and give Johnny (Morris) another Daytona 500 win.”
|Burton nearly escaped damage in chain reaction wreck|
“You saw an intensity level tonight you won’t see for the 500 until… What happens in the 500 every year, it always happens, everybody is pretty calm. Then it gets about half-way and it starts to get a little more intense. Then those last 100 miles, there is just caution after caution after caution and you get a mad dash for the end. That is what happens.”
|Kyle Busch made two spectacular saves, and wins (Getty)|
How did you make the last pass on Tony Stewart? “Somebody was in front of me — the 39 (Ryan Newman) and somebody and then got hooked up and went and I’m like, ‘Alright.’ I was trying to stay with the 39 and I pulled low and got in behind (Tony) Stewart and just mowed right up through there. He had a fast car and took us by those guys around the outside and I’m like, ‘It’s a two-guy race right now and it’s going to be either me or him coming to the start-finish line off of turn four.’ I’ve seen the move done before, it was my turn to do it this time — Stewart had me the last time here in July a couple years ago. I’m glad it was the M&M’s car and put me here in victory lane.”
How was tonight’s race? “That was an interesting race to say the least. The pack racing is back and that gives the drivers a little more control and adds a lot of excitement for the fans — and that’s the biggest thing — the fans wanted pack racing back and NASCAR listened and delivered. We learned a lot tonight about our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota and I thought we might have had a shot there at the end, but we lost our momentum on that last restart and that was it for us. We have a couple things to work on, but I’m confident we’ll be right where we need to be for the Daytona 500.”