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Kyle Busch edges Tony Stewart in Bud Shootout

Driver, Toyota earn first Shootout win in 'chaotic,' unofficial start to the Sprint Cup Series.

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012

He was involved in numerous wrecks. He twice saved his car in spinouts.

All that and Kyle Busch still finished Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout in Victory Lane.

After pushing Tony Stewart to the lead and separating themselves from the pack, Busch went to the outside lane exiting Turn 4 on the last lap and beat Stewart to the finish line by 0.013 seconds in a drag race to the finish.

It's Busch's first win in the Shootout, the unofficial start to the Sprint Cup Series season at Daytona International Speedway. It also is Toyota's first win in the event.

"It was great driving when I wasn't getting turned around," Busch said. "The pack racing was back. I hope all the fans liked it."

Not bad for a damaged car.

"It was hurt a little bit and certainly the car wasn't the same as what it was when we first started," Busch said. "That left front corner (was) ... bent up and bent down a few times tonight. This car - it was our Daytona 500 backup car - it's been through enough tonight that I think it's going to go home and be put on reserve for later."

Stewart finished second, Marcos Ambrose third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.

It was clear from the beginning, much of the two-car drafting that dominated the restrictor-plate racing last season was gone, or at least greatly diminished.

Much of the first 25-lap segment involved cars racing in larger packs.

In fact, the lone accident during the first segment occurred on Lap 9 when David Ragan was bump-drafting with Paul Menard while racing in a pack.

Menard called the racing "chaotic."

"The old-style pack racing seemed less chaotic than this is because you can still get to the bumper and push, but just not for very long," he said. "There is a lot of that going on in the middle of the pack."

Jamie McMurray ended the segment as the leader, followed by Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Ambrose.

Michael Waltrip, Ragan and Menard were involved in the Lap 9 wreck and couldn't were unable to continue.

On Lap 32 of the 82, Clint Bowyer went spinning though the infield grass.

On the restart on Lap 37, Greg Biffle was the leader followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano.

Several more contenders got caught up in a six-car wreck on Lap 55, started when Ambrose hit the left rear of Logano's car.

Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. all were collected in the accident.

The race restarted on Lap 62 with Biffle in the lead, followed by Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

With the race winding to a finish, Gordon clipped the left rear of Kyle Busch's bumper, which triggered a multicar wreck that eliminated Gordon, Johnson, McMurray, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and A.J. Allmendinger from contention.

So how did Kyle Busch save his car so many times?

"I have no idea," he said. "Stab and steer - that's what you do - and some braking. There were brakes involved, too.

"I didn't know if I was clear (in the first spin) - I thought I was clear. These left-side mirrors are so touchy so I tried going down slowly and Jimmie (Johnson) just must have been there a little bit and turned me sideways and got me on the apron. Scared everybody half to death - including me.

"... Then the second time with (Jeff) Gordon behind me - I don't know what the deal was. ... That was certainly a big one and I hope everybody's all right."

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