Kevin Harvick takes Budweiser car to Victory Lane in Sprint Unlimited

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.
(Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
"That's one for the lame ducks, right?"

Kevin Harvick may be leaving Richard Childress Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, but he gave notice that he has no intention of phoning in the 2013 season. Not only did he lead the most laps and win the second segment of the newly christened Sprint Unlimited, but he made the No. 29 Budweiser car three lanes wide in the last two laps to hold off Greg Biffle, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart to take the checkers of the exhibition race formerly known as the Bud Shootout for the third time in the last five years.

The Gen-6 car's debut under the lights at Daytona went relatively smoothly, with only one non-competition caution for the Lap 15 crash that took six cars out of the running and negated the option of fans choosing up to six cars to eliminate after the second segment. Tony Stewart moved down to get in front of Marcos Ambrose, barely brushing the right front of the No. 9 car. Stewart recovered, but the cars behind him checked up and ended up wrecking and just like that, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin were out of the race.

From that point forward, drivers used much more caution in negotiating the unfamiliar airflow around the new cars. Stewart won the first segment and fans chose the four-tire stop.

With a total of nine lead changes among five drivers, the remainder of the event showed little excitement until the last few laps when Harvick and Kenseth ran side-by-side for several laps with Biffle and Stewart right behind. Aric Almirola's car looked strong, too.

Not until the final laps did drivers really get back up on the wheel to try to challenge, but the new dynamics with the air kept anyone from being able to make much of a move on Harvick.

"We knew that the racing was going to be different," Harvick said post-race. "We just didn't know because we hadn't run in a big pack. Honestly, we still haven't because the pack got narrowed down as we got the race started there ... Reminds me of how we raced 10, 11 years ago with that type of car and that type of package." 

Finishing order:
1 Kevin Harvick 
2 Greg Biffle  
3 Joey Logano  
4 Tony Stewart 
5 Matt Kenseth  
6 Aric Almirola  
7 Kasey Kahne  
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.  
9 Martin Truex Jr. 
10 Juan Pablo Montoya  
11 Marcos Ambrose  
12 Carl Edwards  
13 Kurt Busch  
14 Jimmie Johnson  
15 Denny Hamlin   
16 Kyle Busch 
17 Jeff Gordon   
18 Mark Martin  
19 Terry Labonte  

Kevin Harvick takes Budweiser car to Victory Lane in Sprint Unlimited Kevin Harvick takes Budweiser car to Victory Lane in Sprint Unlimited Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, February 17, 2013 Rating: 5