DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Call it “Dancing with the Cars.” Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout exhibition was a 200-mph tango of two-car drafts on the newly-paved, super-fast Daytona International Speedway.
In a photo finish, Kurt Busch won a predictably wild NASCAR opener on the new $20 million racing surface, pushed to the front by defending Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray a few feet before the finish line. Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag first, but was subsequently black-flagged for dropping below the yellow line on the track trying to pass Ryan Newman at the finish line.
“What an unbelievable experience,” Busch said.
The race had set a record for lead changes (24) with 12 laps to go — there ended up being 28. The two-car drafts were easily reaching speeds of 206 mph — nearly 15 mph faster than last year’s pole-winning speed for the Daytona 500.