After a year of tandem racing, NASCAR and its fans got what they wanted Saturday night in the Budweiser Shootout. Pack racing. Changing things from length of the back bumpers to the openings of the grilles, NASCAR did everything they could to get racing back to the famous—and sometimes infamous—pack style racing.
Kyle Busch, who at the end of the 2011 season found himself amid a stir of controversy, won Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout on a last-lap pass on defending Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart. The Las Vegas native came back to win the race after spinning his No.18 Toyota Camry twice throughout the event.
“It was great driving when I was nearly turned around,” Busch said in victory lane. “First race back in the M&M’s car, and we’re in victory lane.
“I can’t say enough about these guys,” said Busch.”For these to pull out a backup car like this is incredible. I was just stabbing and steering out there and having fun. It was intense…just guys pushing all the time. It was a great race.”
It’s the first Shootout win for Busch, and it comes in a race that seems as though it was built for ‘Rowdy.’
Numerous incidents occurred when drivers tapped the left sides of the back-bumpers in the corners, causing massive pileups which led to a condensed field when it came down to the final restart of the night. Busch was able slide ahead of Clint Bowyer after Bowyer’s Camry faltered behind the Chevrolet of Stewart.
Summer of 2011 darling, Brad Keselowski gave it all he had, trying to become only the second Miller Lite sponsored effort to claim victory in the Budweiser Shootout, pushing the No.9 of Marcos Ambrose. Coming to the white flag, the duo of Stewart and Busch flew past the Keselowski/Ambrose combination heading into turn one.
Busch was able to get around Stewart’s Chevrolet coming through the tri-oval to win the race by 0.013 seconds, the closet margin in Shootout history.
Crew chief, Dave Rogers, also noted that it was the first victory for electronic fuel injection in NASCAR history in tonight’s Budweiser Shootout, let alone the first victory for Toyota in the star-studded event.
“I had much more fun as a driver out there tonight,” said second place finisher, Stewart. “Definetly a lot more fun. You felt more eager and engaged than in the two-car draft. This is much better than sitting there and having to stare at a back of a spoiler for 500 miles.”
One of the scariest moments of the night came when Jeff Gordon’s No.24 was pinned up against the turn four wall, and ensued to barrel roll down the front stretch in the final incident of the evening. Gordon clambered out of his Chevrolet unscathed after the frightening tumble.
“Great racing out there tonight,” said the surprisingly enthusiastic Gordon. “I had a lot of fun out there.”
After a year of the two-car tango, it appears as though pack racing is back. And even more dangerous and hair-raising than ever.
Results of the Budweiser Shootout
- Kyle Busch
- Tony Stewart
- Marcos Ambrose
- Brad Keselowski
- Denny Hamlin
- Greg Biffle
- Ryan Newman
- Clint Bowyer
- Carl Edwards
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Jeff Burton
- AJ Allmendinger
- Kasey Kahne
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jeff Gordon
- Jamie McMurray
- Kurt Busch
- Joey Logano
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Kevin Harvick
- Paul Menard
- David Ragan
- Michael Waltrip