SPRINT Budweiser ShootoutFinal
Harvick captures wreck-filled Budweiser ShootoutFeb 8, 2009 - 5:41 AM DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) -- Kevin Harvick won a crash-filled Budweiser Shootout on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
The race went into a green-white-checkered finish after an incident with two laps left in regulation took out Greg Biffle.
The field came to the line with Jamie McMurray on the inside and Jeff Gordon on the outside.
Jimmie Johnson pushed McMurray to the front, and the field played bumper cars behind his No. 26 Ford as he seemed to be in control.
However, Harvick's Chevrolet shot to the lead with a push from Denny Hamlin and was in front as Hamlin, Johnson and Clint Bowyer wrecked, freezing the field and ending the race.
"Man, we won a Daytona 500 this exact same way by just never giving up," Harvick said. "I knew we had one shot. 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.' Not really where I wanted to be. At that point we got a good run going into the first corner. Denny (Hamlin) kind of carried up high. We just kept that momentum. Luckily, the car turned.
"As soon as I got by Denny, he shot right down. He gave me a shot in the rear there. We were able to keep that momentum all the way down the back straightaway. But the hole wasn't very wide, just for the record)."
McMurray finished second, while the Chevrolet of Tony Stewart was third. Jeff Gordon was fourth in a Chevrolet and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top five in a Dodge.
"When I saw (Harvick) coming, I moved up and I thought I was high enough," McMurray said. "I didn't think there was room between him and the wall and he just snuck in there.
"You feel like a sucker when you're in the front of this deal. You get away from the guy so much in the corner that you have to drag the brake a little bit to try to keep him close enough, but when you get the white flag it's hard to drag the brake. I guess I didn't slow down enough and they got a big run down the backstretch."
Johnson, the three-time defending Sprint Cup champion, wasn't exactly sure of what happened in the slam-bang finish.
"I need to look at the video to see what happened there, I'm not exactly sure," he said. "Coming down the back straightaway, the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) was to my bumper and gave me a great shot; and two cars in front of me were kind of stalled out and there was a lane in the middle of them.
"So I thought I could take the run the No. 14 gave me and shoot through the middle of them and as I tried to go through the middle, I'm not sure if somebody on the outside lane was trying to come down or if I came across somebody's nose or what, but that's when we made contact and started the wreck."
The final segment, which went 50 laps, saw Kasey Kahne, driving the Bud Dodge, take charge early as cars were slicing and dicing all over the track. Soon after, Gordon - who started dead last in the first segment - moved his Chevy to the front as lead changes were plentiful.
With 45 laps remaining, nine drivers already had led on the night, tying the race record.
There was a crash less than 10 laps into the segment as Gordon was caught in the middle and sent Biffle on a ride. Johnson and Jeff Burton also were caught up in the wrecking pack.
With 35 laps to go, Gordon pushed Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the lead, prompting a large roar from the crowd.
After a series of lead changes throughout, Earnhardt finally settled in at the front of the pack and remained in control for about 10 laps.
Elliott Sadler was spun by David Stremme and went into the infield, causing a caution with 20 laps left. That provided the opportunity for the leaders to hit pit road.
With 12 laps remaining, another crash occurred, taking out Earnhardt - whose car suffered major damage. First segment pole-sitter Paul Menard's car got loose and he wound up tagging Earnhardt, whose night was finished.
"Me and Kyle (Busch) were drafting on the inside and he gave me a real good run back in to the lead," Junior said. "I just lost the right rear cause I just couldn't hold my car on the bottom and got up into Jeff (Gordon) a little bit and kinda got shuffled through the middle to the back.
"I knew there was going to be a wreck. I was figuring on getting through the pack before it started happening and we didn't."
The race restarted with seven laps to go, and McMurray moved into the lead, which did not seem like the best place to be on this evening of double-digit changes.
Johnson was behind McMurray in second until his car wiggled, and he lost momentum and fell back to fifth place.
With three laps to go, Gordon took charge from McMurray for less than a lap. But McMurray regained the lead as Biffle and Stremme got together, causing the race to go into overtime as the yellow flag waved for the seventh time with two laps left.
"There were a couple of guys who thought they were on go-karts out there instead of stock cars," Gordon said. "I think that was just really stacking things up and causing some problems. But it was a heck of a race, it was just great racing out there. Just got a little bit too wild."
The Shootout, a non-points race, is the unofficial opener to the Sprint Cup season. It did not take long for the fireworks to start, as the opening 25-lap segment featured a pair of crashes.
The opening segment saw big names at the point after Menard led the field to the green flag. Earnhardt, Stewart and Carl Edwards all took charge at different points.
"That was exciting. I'm lucky that car is the same shape we started out with," Edwards said at the end of a wild night.
"We made it through at the end in seventh. There were times when we were leading, that was good."
Deep into the run, David Reutimann was clipped by Hamlin and went into Stremme, sending both cars for a quick slide through the grass. That caused the segment to end under caution with Edwards leading and McMurray in second place.
Three-time defending Sprint Cup champ Johnson was third.
The first segment was marred by a wreck five laps in as Robbie Gordon tapped David Ragan, and a chain reaction behind them saw cars banging into each other.
Among those damaged were Joey Logano, who was racing in the No. 20 car vacated when Stewart moved on to his own team. Also winding up in the garage were Scott Speed, Ragan and Robbie Gordon.