Budweiser Shootout – More Carnage Than Competition

Charlotte, NC (February 19, 2012) – Next year, let’s just call the Budweiser Shootout the ‘Crash For Cash.’

Saturday’s latest version of NASCAR’s special event at Daytona International Speedway was just that – ‘special’ – as millions of dollars in prime racing equipment was turned into scrap metal.

In all, 18 of the 25 starters were mangled in a quartet of wrecks that literally had drivers ‘upside down with their hair on fire.’ We don’t mean to make light of this stuff – there’s nothing funny about seeing cars occupied by humans careening out of control, on fire and slamming into walls at nearly 200 miles an hour.

For our money, it’s not the least bit entertaining either.

Racing is not wrecking.

Half of the field in Saturday’s race – 12 of the 25 cars entered – did not finish the event. While there is no official count, it’s almost a certainty that none of those cars will ever race again. That means that several team owners had to swallow at least $150,000 worth of twisted metal Saturday night.

Talk about biting into something tough to chew – especially when each of the 12 drivers/entries that didn’t finish the race earned $33,525 or less in prize money.

Meanwhile, of the 13 cars that were still running at the finish, all but three had substantial damage. Given that these are handcrafted, purpose built racers, the owners of those vehicles also choked down thousands of dollars in rubble.

If we didn’t know better, we’d think the Federal Government had a hand in this kind of economic fiasco.

In the end, there will be a lot of crowing about how Kyle Busch won the 2012 Budweiser Shootout with a thrilling last-lap dash passing Tony Stewart by inches at the checkered flag. To be sure, Busch is a masterful driver and arguably the most gifted in the sport today. It is totally proper to celebrate his victory.

But even Busch – who by admission spun out three times Saturday night – had to be wondering how in the world he was standing in Victory Lane after a race that featured way more carnage than competition.

More importantly, everyone in the garage area Saturday night had to give pause about the value of this kind of event and the ‘racing’ it produced. Wasting millions of dollars of team money in an era of tight economic times doesn’t make any sense and everyone will be on pins and needles hoping the same thing doesn’t happen when the Daytona 500 takes the green flag next Sunday.

Here’s a suggestion – given the format for the Budweiser Shootout changes every year, may we recommend NASCAR brings in a fleet of Monster Trucks next year to crush a bunch of old, previously destroyed Sprint Cup cars.

It’ll be a lot cheaper to mangle stuff that’s already wrecked – and a lot safer too.

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