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Kurt Busch wins fast, wild Budweiser Shootout at Daytona



Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network - If Saturday's Budweiser Shootout is any indication of what's to happen on the newly-paved Daytona International Speedway during the next eight days, it should be a very wild time.

With speeds reaching more than 200 m.p.h. throughout the 75-lap non-points paying race, Kurt Busch got some assistance from defending Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray and received a lot more help from NASCAR to win his first NASCAR race at Daytona.

Denny Hamlin appeared to have crossed the finish line first, but just before crossing the line, Hamlin drove underneath then-leader Ryan Newman and passed him below the out-of-bounds line. NASCAR prohibits passing for position below the yellow line at its restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway).

NASCAR credited Busch with the win after he got a friendly push from McMurray on the outside lane of Daytona's frontstretch.

"It's unbelievable," said Busch, who won his first restrictor-plate track event. "To experience victory lane here no matter what the race is, it's very special."

Busch switched from the No.2 to the No.22 Dodge at Penske Racing and acquired new sponsor Shell/Pennzoil for the 2011 Sprint Cup season. Busch, his teammate, Brad Keselowski, and Robby Gordon are the only drivers in Dodges this year. Gordon, also a team owner, announced his partnership with the American auto manufacturer earlier this week.

"We know that we're out-numbered by the competition," Busch added.

McMurray pulled ahead of Newman to finish second, while Newman took the third spot.

"I had a really good time tonight," McMurray said. "I wish that I could have pushed a Chevrolet to the front, but Kurt and I are really good friends away from the racetrack."

Jimmie Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.

Hamlin wound up finishing 12th after his penalty, which placed him at the tail end of the lead lap.

"That yellow line is there to protect us and the fans in the grandstands," Hamlin said. "I just chose to take the safer route. Winning the Shootout is not worth sending [Newman] through the grandstands, and as fast as we were running, his car would have gone airborne if I got into his left rear."

Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, winner of the last two preseason races at Daytona, Jeff Burton, who led the most laps with 32, Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte were sixth through 10th, respectively.

The race featured a record 28 lead changes among nine drivers. Three caution flags waved for accidents, including a six-car incident which involved Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 28.

"It was fun, and the racing might have looked kind of crazy tonight," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It was a different style of racing for sure, and I was enjoying it."

Earlier in the day, NASCAR required teams to remove certain air hoses to cool the engines in an attempt to lower speeds and break up the two-car breakaways. No changes were made to the size of the restrictor plates, which lowers horsepower in the engines and therefore reduces the cars' speeds.

Ten drivers posted speeds over the 200-mile mark during Friday's final practice session for the Budweiser Shootout.

NASCAR will continue to monitor the speeds at Daytona and make any necessary modifications to the restrictor plates.

Forty-nine teams are scheduled to qualify for the February 20 Daytona 500 on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (et).

02/13 13:10:26 ET


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