Quite a few people I talked to last night had mixed emotions about the 2011 Bud Shootout; some liked the two-car drafting, others abhorred it, some liked the repaving, others weren't fans because they felt it took away the 'character' the track had. I, however, will keep my opinions to myself and write this with a completely neutral attitude.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started from the pole, but his lead was short-lived when Clint Bowyer snatched the lead. By Lap seven, Dale Jr. took his lead back, and we got a taste of what was to come all night, two-car drafting. Unfortunately, Kasey Kahne fans were dejected when on Lap eight, he headed to the Garage because of engine issues. On Lap twelve, Tony Stewart took the lead away from Bowyer. Seven laps later, Jeff Burton took the lead away and held onto the lead for the remainder of the first segment. During the first segment, there were twelve lead changes and Kyle Busch was able to put a lap of over 206mph down.
The second segment, which was comprised of fifty laps, commenced with a crash. Regan Smith got into Carl Edwards who got into Dale Jr, causing a five-car pile up, which consisted of Dale Jr., Carl Edwards, Kevin Conway, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith. But according to Darrell Waltrip, while showing Joey Logano letting go of the wheel when crashing, "If you don't let go of the wheel, you could break your ankles...wrists!" (I'm sorry, it was too funny not to add.) On Lap thirty, the third caution (first was the competition caution at the end of the first segment) of the night came out, when Kyle Busch and Mark Martin, who were drafting partners all night, both crashed when Mark, who was doing the same thing from the first segment, got into the back of Kyle and spun them both out. Caution number four came out when Michael Waltrip hit the wall. From there on it was smooth sailing, no more cautions, however, the ending was surprising. I thought for sure a Richard Childress Racing car was going to win, but was surprised when Denny Hamlin, who no one heard a word from all night, was passing Ryan Newman for the lead. Unfortunately, he passed below the Yellow Line, and the advance in his position was invalid and was disqualified. Kurt Busch took the Checkered Flag on the final lap, winning the first Bud Shootout in a Dodge.
If you watched the Shootout, you saw history being made, one - a Dodge won, two - Michael Waltrip put down a lap time of 208.29mph, fastest ever at Daytona and three - the record for most lead changes was broken!