Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rating the Budweiser Shootout: 5 Stars *****

There’s nothing like a photo finish to start Speedweeks. Even though Denny Hamlin was disqualified because he went below the yellow line as he came to the checkered flag, that finish was certainly worthy of a Monday Morning Crew Chief 5 Star Rating.

With cars reaching 206 mph, everyone seemed in awe of what was taking place. Daytona International Speedway is once again a place to see incredible speed.

Is this the type of racing fans have wanted for years? Has that complaint finally been satisfied? It seems this is probably as close as the racing can get to resemble the old days without taking the restrictor plates off of the cars.

Many probably thought they would never see those types of speeds in their lifetime, not because the cars couldn’t run that fast, but because NASCAR would shrink the restrictor plate to keep it from happening. Well, not this year – yet. We’ll see what happens in that regard as the week progresses. NASCAR has made changes to the front gille and pressure relief valve in the radiator to shorten the distance cars can bump draft before the pushing car overheats, but still no changes to the restrictor plate.

Also, the two-car draft is simply phenomenal, and I think everyone in NASCAR is a little stumped at why the technique is so effective all of a sudden. A couple of common-sense factors would be the fact that the front and back bumpers line up, which allows cars to bump draft all of the way around the track, and the new pavement. Drivers no longer have to worry about handling. Instead, they have to solely focus on making the two-car draft work, which may be even more of a challenge.

While the Chevrolets and Toyotas looked strong at testing and in practice, the lone Dodge car in the shootout came away with the victory. Kurt Busch finally broke through on a restrictor-plate track, and although he didn’t actually cross the finish line first, he has the trophy and the cool leather jacket. This just proves truly anyone has a legitimate shot to win the Daytona 500. Yes, even Kevin Conway. Maybe.

Ryan Newman also added another chapter to his exciting restrictor-plate career. Newman is usually either up near the front of the field at Daytona or Talladega, or he’s in the middle of the biggest wreck of the day, if not the season. He won the 2008 Daytona 500, but has flipped at each plate track and has been involved in several other memorable moments, including the 2009 spring race at Talladega when Carl Edwards’ car bounced off of Newman’s hood and went flying into the fence.

So, although it was delivered in a different way this year, the Budweiser Shootout came through with lots of intrigue and excitement. I can’t wait to see what unfolds the rest of this week. Have a great one.


  1. Neither can I! Duels are gonna be great to see from the pits...I cannot wait!! =)

  2. klvalus - That is so cool! When will you get in to Daytona?

  3. I fly in 6p on Wed...will be at the track everyday!


  4. I remember Hamlin in the spring Talladega race of 2008 being able to push another car from the back to the front... like they're doing now... he did it several different times that day with different drivers. I wonder why he was able to do it back then, and why he was the only one?

    I suppose we will know a lot more on Thursday afternoon.

  5. Gene - Maybe his team had already made some of the innovations to the radiator and such. It will also be interesting to see how the Toyotas draft Thursday. They were all slow in qualifying.