Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kurt Busch Wins An Action-Packed Budweiser Shootout

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

The 2011 Budweiser Shootout winner had a familiar sponsor, different driver. Shell/Pennzoil returned to victory lane for a third year in a row, this time with new driver Kurt Busch. When the race ended, many didn't know who the winner was because Denny Hamlin crossed the checkered line first, although Hamlin clearly passed below the yellow line. 

The first segment of 25 laps was led by Jeff Burton, who led 13 of the 25 laps. The first segment was dominated by the two-car drafts, seeing many different lead changes. At the end of the first segment was a 10-minute break to service the cars and make any needed changes.

The second segment began with Jeff Burton leading the pack to the green flag. The big one came, as we almost always see at restrictor plate races, when Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, and Regan Smith were all fighting for the same position and Smith came down on Edwards, sending him into Earnhardt Jr. This caused a chain reaction crash also collecting Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kevin Conway. Jimmie Johnson also had slight damage but after repairs on pit road he was able to return to the track. The next incident occurred between Mark Martin and Kyle Busch, drafting partners who must have misaligned and than crashed each other out.

The race came down to the two-car draft. In the final laps we saw Busch being pushed by the reigning Daytona 500 winner, Jamie McMurray, and they were competing for the win against Ryan Newman, who was being pushed by Denny Hamlin. Into the last lap Kurt Busch and McMurray stayed teamed up, but Hamlin decided to go for it and made the pass. Hamlin went below the yellow line before the checkers but was still black-flagged because at no time is it allowed to pass under the yellow line. Hamlin explained the move by saying he did it to prevent from hitting Newman. "A win in the Shootout is not worth sending the 39 through the grandstands. For me, as fast as we're running, if I got into his left rear, that car will go airborne."

Kurt Busch was declared the winner, followed by McMurray, Newman, Johnson and Biffle. The Shootout also had a record number lead changes, 28 total with nine different drivers swapping the lead.

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