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Kevin Harvick wins the Bud Shootout, in a wild, wild finish


A wild night...and rookie Joey Logano (20) didn't make it all the way. David Ragan (6) and Robby Gordon (7) crash, and Scott Speed (82) had nowhere to go early during Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Kevin Harvick surprised everyone with a daring charge in a green-white-checkered finishing sprint to win Saturday night's Bud Shootout, as the men behind him crashed wildly.
   "I've got to thank all the fans – they had to enjoy that – that was some wild racing," Harvick said after giving team owner Richard Childress a big win. "What a race, man. That was wild at the end.
   "They ought to cancel testing here every year, if this is the kind of racing we get. You saw a lot of drivers running on pent-up emotion."
David Stremme and Greg Biffle tangled on lap 73 of the scheduled 75-lapper, setting up a green-white-checkered sprint to the finish, with Ford's Jamie McMurray leading Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on the final restart. McMurray appeared a sitting duck for the Chevy teammates.
   But Gordon made a move to the outside, and two-wide the Chevy men let McMurray get some breathing room.
   Then Toyota's Denny Hamlin charged up the middle to make it three-wide….and teammate Kyle Busch, in the scrambling got knocked below the yellow line, though he didn't back off.
   While that action was going on down in the low groove, Harvick was making a move to the outside.
   McMurray couldn't block Harvick, who got the lead and held it, as the field piled up behind him.
   McMurray wound up second.
   "I moved to block Jeff and Jimmie, and I was just waiting to get wrecked when I did that," McMurray said. "But it was a good night for Donnie Wingo's first race 
(as his new crew chief)."
    Drivers may well be demanding NASCAR testing here next January, as awkward as these cars handled Saturday.
    Kyle Busch, 10th, was not happy with his car: "It was probably one of the best driving cars, and it still drove terrible. They're not built for this race track, really.

    "The biggest thing is they are just bouncing all over the place, and nobody can hold their own lane. A guy on the bottom either slides up because he's tight or because he's loose...and it's just so difficult to race out there. Especially racing like three-wide and bump-drafting each other. The cars are tipping back and forth and all over the place. They're very hard to handle, and we look like ARCA drivers."

Tires, for some reason, appeared an issue, but it was unclear just what the deal was. Crew chief Ryan Pemberton said the tires would be fine for seven laps but would then start to give up.
   How much of a factor the tires were in the race will be debated. But the cars were very ill-handling. Tony Stewart insisted on getting fresh tires with only two laps to go, for example, while running 13th, just ahead of Carl Edwards, who also pitted for rubber. Stewart charged to third: "It wasn't a pretty third, but it was a good start for a new team."
   "The cars are a handful," Jeff Burton said. "But they are putting on a heck of a show."
   -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was knocked out of the game when Paul Menard got loose in three-wide traffic. I was real loose into turn one, and then I just lost the right rear and got shuffled back, and then I was trying to get back up front before the big wreck, but we didn't make it.
   "The car was just too loose on a long run."
     -- Biffle got a tap from Gordon, who was scrambling to get out of a four-wide jam, and that triggered the third caution of the night. Biffle and Burton got the worst of it. Burton was out for the night, but Biffle managed to continue. But Biffle was caught up in two more crashes, finally getting taken out when tagged by  Stremme off the fourth turn.
   -- The first crash, just five laps in, took out David Ragan, Joey Logano and Scott Speed.
  "I'm very disappointed," Ragan said. "Our Ford was fine the first few laps, then someone on the outside just got checked up, and it was a chain reaction."
   Ragan got tapped in the rear by Robby Gordon in the melee.
   "It's just a typical deal here at Daytona and Talladega -- When someone gets checked up, usually two or three rows back someone doesn't see it," Ragan said.
   Logano only got five laps before the crash. "It is tough -- You start in the back (for missing the pre-race drivers' meeting, because he was running in the ARCA prelim), and then it's what happens. 
    "Just saw everyone get loose and checked up, and then saw he (Ragan) was coming down, and I floored it and headed to the apron and just clipped me, enough to send me back into the wall. 
   "It stinks.  It's still early.  What are you supposed to do?  Nowhere to go in that situation. 
   Speed, who also got collected in a Friday night incident, was not happy: "Well, wrong place, wrong time, obviously. 
    "The thing is with these things when someone wrecks in front of you, you're pretty much committed. 
    "If you're on the top (high lane), these cars are so heavy and they're going so fast you can't exactly just say 'Okay, I want to be on the bottom now.'
   "You're pretty committed."
   Brian Vickers was caught up in the final lap wreck: "I don't know what happened. We were making a run back up to the front, and Kyle Busch went low. I don't know what happened, or if he was just out of control, or what. He came back up on the race track and everybody just kind of got jammed up four-wide and started beating on each other and then in turn three Jimmie Johnson wrecked. I don’t know how -- if he got spun or what happened and I tried to avoid him but there was really nowhere to go."
"We were good, we were fine," a disappointed Hamlin said after finishing 13th. "We were in position (to win), and then we got turned. I thought we were going to have a great run coming off turn four. We just didn't get the opportunity."
  "It was a good way to get our weekend started, for sure," McMurray said. "After I Jimmie and Jeff, I saw Kevin coming. So I moved up...and I thought I was high enough.
  "I didn't think there was room between him and the wall, but 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 (to keep him from getting enough running room to make a move). 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."

Kevin Harvick: back in Daytona's victory lane again. The 2007 Daytona 500 winner pulled the surprise Saturday night in the Shootout (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)




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