Kyle Busch Wins Budweiser Shootout By A Nose

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Kyle Busch fought back from adversity to pull off a last-second pass over Tony Stewart to win the 34th annual Budweiser Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday evening. The controversial driver dazzled the large crowd with his skillful driving while giving Toyota its first victory in the Shootout.

The margin of victory was 1/100th of a second, to make it the closest finish in Budweiser Shootout history.

The victor drove the M&M’s Toyota fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing.

A late-race accident involving Jeff Gordon and others sent the race into overtime. The event ran 82 laps instead of the 75 scheduled ones.

“It was me or him on the final lap,” Busch said. “I had seen the move before when he did it to me here at Daytona a couple of years ago, and I was glad to be able to reverse it tonight. I had been trying to stay with No. 39 (Ryan Newman) and when he got away, I caught up with Stewart. When a hole opened up, I pushed him through it, went to the outside and passed him. It worked, and I beat him to the line.

“My M&M’s car was fast but it was hard to keep up when you keep getting turned around,” he said. “It was exciting from where I sat, and I can’t say enough about my team, which got the back-up car ready. I was out there steering, braking, stabbing the gas and sliding around.”

Driving the untried Toyota, Busch was involved in at least two incidents when he got sideways and he displayed masterful driving skills to save the car from serious damage. In one incident, he saved the car three times, although he ripped off part of the front spoiler.

Said crew chief Dave Rogers, “Today, the thing was wrecked twice, and the car hadn’t taken a lap on the track until the race started. It was a quality win for us.”

Stewart took the loss in stride and he said being in second place on the last lap is the right place to be. “The second spot is the one you want to be in, and you have to plan ahead,” he said. “I started thinking about the finish coming off turn 2. I knew it was coming, and it was just a matter of guarding against it.”

He drove the Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet.

The champion driver heaped praise on NASCAR for returning the fun to racing at Daytona. “I had fun racing at Daytona again; it was a lot more fun than those two-car races. Today, we had more control as drivers.”

Marcos Ambrose steered the Stanley Ford to third place. He, too, had been involved in incidents but when it counted, he had a strong finish.

“It was a crazy race,” the Australian said. “I saw or was involved in every wreck out there. The racing was a lot more fun and it gave the drivers more control of their destiny. And getting to the front was fun.”

Brad Keselowski finished fourth and Denny Hamlin took fifth.

Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Pack racing took place throughout much of the 82-lap race but at the end, it turned into a dual between Busch and Stewart. Overwhelmingly, the drivers applauded the return to pack racing, saying it made the racing much more fun.

Three fiery crashes spiced the action. In the first one, David Ragan and Paul Menard got together while running in a large pack. Seven more cars were immediately drawn into the fray — Kasey Kahne, Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Montoya, Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip and Gordon.

The second one occurred on the 51st lap with six cars jamming up. It started when Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano hit and since they were running in a tight pack, the cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kenseth were sucked in.

According to Harvick, the drivers need to practice patience and begin to think things through before making moves.

With one lap to go in regulation, Gordon tagged Kyle Busch, triggering a seven-car incident that involved A. J. Allmendinger, Johnson, Kurt Busch, Edwards and Jamie McMurray. Gordon’s Chevrolet tipped on its side and slid some 1,000 ft. before rolling over three times. The car landed on its top and the driver had to be aided from it.

“These cars are unbelievable,” Gordon said. “It was my first time upside down in some 20 years. I was in a position to win it with Johnson pushing me. Kyle’s car was wiggling and I thought he was going to wreck. This certainly was an exciting way to kick off the new season, but not the way I wanted it to happen.”

Five caution flags consumed 22 of the 82 laps. When the checkered flag dropped, 13 of the 25 cars that started the race were still running, and three of them were not on the lead lap.

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