5 Questions After ... Budweiser Shootout

A record-breaking and controversial race in the Budweiser Shootout … sounds like NASCAR is now back to normal! While Saturday night’s race didn’t count for points, the drivers raced their hearts out and put on a heck of a show for both the fans in attendance and those tuning in on FOX. Plus, who doesn’t love a little controversy every so often?

Here are some questions on my mind after the race…

Should there be a yellow line rule? … Kurt Busch would say yes. Denny Hamlin would say no. At the end of the race on Saturday night, Hamlin moved below Ryan Newman and Busch to make it three-wide at the finish. Hamlin nosed ahead, but Busch was granted the victory after NASCAR determined that Hamlin had illegally passed below the double yellow line. Yes, the rule was put in place for safety reasons but is it really necessary? After all, these cars are built like tanks. Elliott Sadler had one of the hardest impacts ever recorded by NASCAR at Pocono last year, and all it did was knock the wind out of him and maybe leave a few bruises. While we shouldn’t intentionally put the drivers in danger, risk is a part of racing. The drivers, their families, teams and sponsors know this. These drivers are considered the best drivers in the world. Shouldn’t we at least allow them to race like it?

How much of these two car packs are we going to see in the Daytona 500? … I’m going to say right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of these two car drafts. All race long, the fastest cars were usually two cars hooked together with one pushing the other towards the front. While we had a record number of lead changes (28, the record was 23 back in 2009), it was a far cry from the packs of 3-wide racing we’re accustomed to seeing. The racing didn’t suck by any means. In fact, it was rather exciting right up until the end. However, watching that kind of racing for just over an hour is going to be much more tolerable than the 3-4 hours of racing we’ll see in the Daytona 500 this Sunday. 

Is Jamie McMurray underrated as a restrictor plate driver? … When deciding who to pick for Daytona and Talladega on your fantasy teams, most people don’t think of Jamie McMurray. With his Daytona 500 victory last season he’s obviously been given a substantial amount of attention, but his name isn’t usually near the top of the list on smart picks for restrictor plate races. Looking at some of his finishes, it’s not necessarily hard to see why. Though McMurray has two victories at Daytona, he only has four top 10s in 16 starts at Daytona and ten finishes outside the top 30. It seems that when it rains, it pours for McMurray. Nevertheless, when McMurray doesn’t finish worse than 25th in a restrictor plate race he can usually be found near the front. McMurray’s three top 5s include two victories and a second place finish. So while McMurray seems to be hit or miss when it comes to Daytona, he seems to be getting the hang of things with his runner-up finish in the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night.

Were the speeds too fast? … A few cars reached speeds of up to 206mph on the backstretch during Saturday night’s race, causing NASCAR to question if the speeds were excessive or not. The two car drafts had an impact on these speeds, with two cars hooking up in the draft and easily passing any car without a drafting partner. NASCAR will change the restrictor plate sizes for the Daytona 500, reducing the holes by 1/64th of an inch to 57/46ths of an inch in diameter. Is this really necessary? After all, this is racing we’re talking about, not piddling around on the highway. If it makes the racing better it’s definitely a better move, but let the drivers race!

Should the race be longer? … The race lasted a total 1 hour, 13 minutes and 15 seconds from green flag to checkered flag. I know it’s an exhibition race, but it goes by so fast that with 10 laps to go everyone says, “10 to go? How did THAT happen?!”. The race leaves fans wanting more and craving some more racing, which hopefully will translate to them turning on their televisions for the Daytona 500. But would 100 laps be better?
5 Questions After ... Budweiser Shootout 5 Questions After ... Budweiser Shootout Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Rating: 5