Kevin Harvick Wins One Wild Budweiser Shootout
After brushing the wall early in the race, Harvick drove his no. 29 Pennzoil Chevrolet from the back of the pack to pass Jamie McMurray on the final lap just moments before several of the front-runners were swept up into yet another multi-car wreck which ended the race under the eighth caution flag of the night.
The victory was the first for Harvick since the 2007 All Star race and his first victory at Daytona since winning the 2007 Daytona 500.
“I got a little bit behind there early,” Harvick said. “I lost the draft. I just came back up through there, and I was thinking, 'We won a Daytona 500 the exact same way.' We just never gave up.
Tony Stewart finished third in his debut as a driver/owner, followed by Jeff Gordon and A.J. Allmendinger.
Saturday night’s race saw a record number of leaders, lead changes and a record starting field of 28 cars, which were quickly whittled down to just 13 finishers after an event-record eight caution flags.
The sheet metal started flying early on as the first multi-car melee broke out just three laps into the event, collecting Dave Ragan, Scott Speed, Robby Gordon and rookie Joey Logano, making his debut in the no. 20 Home Depot Toyota.
After hitting the wall on lap 13, Harvick hung around at the back of the pack, seeming to never really have the car to keep up with the draft, ending up finishing a lap down and dead-last 24th after the first 25-lap segment.
After spending for than half of the second 50-lap segment at the rear of the field and weaving his way through several wrecks – many times by diving onto the apron of the track – Harvick made his way back up to mid-pack, restarting 13th after a caution flag with 12 laps to go.
Getting a big push from Jeff Gordon, Harvick fought his way up into the top five before the caution waved again with three laps left, setting up a three-lap showdown with McMurray up front, followed by Jeff Gordon, Johnson, Harvick and Kyle Busch.
Running in the middle on the final lap, Harvick split the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin to move into second before powering past the leader as McMurray weaved across the track to block.
Just seconds after getting past McMurray, Johnson and Casey Mears tangled, setting off a crash that also collected Hamlin, Busch and Brian Vickers while Gordon and Allmendinger managed to dodge the wreck as the yellow flag waved to end the race.
“I knew we had one shot,” Harvick said of his three-wide pass. “I told them on the radio. I said, ‘we got one shot to win the race, and that's probably going to be up the middle’. Then the 11 (Hamlin) gave me one final shot down the backstretch and we were able to get by the 26 (McMurray).”
“It's got to be one of the most exciting ones for the Budweiser Shootout,” said Harvick’s car owner Richard Childress. “For the fans, the price of admission tonight was well worth it.”
It was a disappointing finish for McMurray, who won his second career race at this track in July of 2007, and came up just half-a-lap short on Saturday.
“It will be a long night,” McMurray said. “I'll think about what I should have done differently as I go to sleep tonight. I moved up to block Kevin and when I did I didn't go all the way up against the wall. I thought I was far enough up against the wall that he couldn't fit.”
“His car just fit through there. I wouldn't have bet it would have.”
It was also a disappointing way to end the day for Logano, after posting a runner-up finish in the earlier accident-marred ARCA RE/MAX Series race.
That event also went to overtime, causing Logano to be penalized to the rear of the field for the Budweiser Shootout for missing the mandatory Sprint Cup driver’s meeting. After just three laps, Logano got tagged trying to avoid the spinning racecar of Scott Speed and ended up pounding the outside wall, ending his night.
“It sucks - it’s too early,” said Logano. “Nowhere to go in that situation. I didn’t get to learn much at all with only five or six laps into it. You start in the back and that’s kind of what happens.”
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