2011 Budweiser Shootout
|Race 1 of 2 Exhibition Races in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||February 12, 2011|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4 km)
|Distance||75 laps, 187.5 mi (301.8 km)|
|Average speed||153.584 miles per hour (247.169 km/h)|
|Driver||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Jeff Burton||Richard Childress Racing|
|Network||Fox Broadcasting Network|
|Announcers||Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds|
The 2011 Budweiser Shootout was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race that was held on February 12, 2011 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Contested over 75 laps, it was the first exhibition race of the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season. The race was won by Kurt Busch for the Penske Racing team. Jamie McMurray finished second, and Ryan Newman clinched third.
Pole position driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. maintained his lead through the first corner, but Clint Bowyer, who started seventh on the grid, led the first lap. On the 25th lap, the first caution was given, as Jeff Burton became the leader. During the caution all the teams made a pit stop . Two laps later, an accident involving several racecars prompted the second caution to be given. On lap 63, Newman became the leader. He maintained the lead until the final lap, when Denny Hamlin passed him below the yellow line (out of bounds line), as Busch passed him on the other side. Hamlin passed Newman below the yellow line giving the win to Kurt Busch.
There were four cautions and 28 lead changes among ten different drivers throughout the course of the race. It was Busch's first win in the 2011 season, as well as his first win at a track that uses restrictor plates, such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. A total of 80,000 people attended the race, while 7.8 million watched it on television.
The track, Daytona International Speedway, is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races. The standard track at Daytona International Speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long. The track's turns are banked at 31 degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at 18 degrees.
A total of thirty drivers were eligible to compete in the race, including previous Sprint Cup Series champions, past winners of the race, rookie of the year winners, previous year pole position winners, the participants of the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup, and the winners of the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400. The race was 75 laps long, with two segments of 25 and 50 laps. In between the segments there was a pit stop that lasted ten minutes. During the pit stop, teams were able to change tires, add fuel, and make normal chassis adjustments, but they were not be allowed to change springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends. Also, all the work was done in either the garage or on pit road. The caution laps, as well as the green flag laps was scored in the race. Kevin Harvick was the defending race winner.
Practice and qualifying 
Two practice sessions were held before the race, which was on Friday afternoon. The first session lasted 45 minutes, while the second lasted 60 minutes. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was quickest with a time of 45.031 seconds in the first session, less than five hundredths of a second faster than Mark Martin. Jimmie Johnson with a quickest time of 45.082 seconds was third, ahead of Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Burton. Ryan Newman was seventh, still within a second of Earnhardt's time. In the second and final practice session, Joey Logano was quickest with a fastest time of 44.316 seconds. Busch followed in second, ahead of Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte. Greg Biffle was fifth quickest, with a time of 44.787. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth rounded out to the first ten positions. Also in the final practice session, a caution came out because the flood lights (that light the track for racing) in the first and third turns were turned off.
For qualifying, the 24 drivers that appeared to race, chose their starting positions by a draw. Earnhardt chose the pole position, ahead of Tony Stewart, Edwards, Hamlin, and Kahne who rounded out the first five positions. Labonte chose sixth place, while Bowyer chose seventh, ahead of Newman and Derrike Cope in eighth and ninth. Waltrip, Biffle, Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Jamie McMurray chose the next five positions. Burton, who chose fifthteenth, was followed by Kevin Conway, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Kenseth, and Martin in the first 20 positions. Kyle Busch, Logano, Johnson, and Regan Smith chose the last four positions in the race.
The race, the first exhibition race of the season, began at 8:10 p.m. EST and was televised live in the United States on Fox. The conditions on the grid were dry before the race, the air temperature at 51 °F (11 °C) with clear skies expected. Laura Bell Bundy began pre-race ceremonies, by performing the national anthem. Next, Bob Hadley, of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, said the invocation, and actress Amber Heard gave the command for drivers to start their engines.
Earnhardt retained his pole position lead into the first corner, but by the conclusion of the first lap Bowyer was leading. Bowyer remained the leader for the next four laps with assistance from Earnhardt. On the sixth lap, Kahne drove to pit road because of problems with his racecar. On the following lap, Stewart and Hamlin began to draft with each other while in the third and fourth positions. By lap nine, Johnson had moved up 16 positions into the fifth position. One lap later, Burton, with assistance from Earnhardt, moved up to the first position, but on lap 11, Earnhardt reclaimed the lead. On the twelfth lap, Stewart became the leader, but after one lap Burton reclaimed the first position as Edwards moved up to second. On the 14th lap, Burton remained the leader, ahead of Edwards and Kurt Busch. Afterward, Earnhardt fell to fifth. However, he moved up to the second position on the following lap while drafting with Kyle Busch to become the leader on lap 17. Kyle Busch became the fourth different leader in the race.
On the 20th lap, Burton, with assistance from Edwards moved to first and second, as Waltrip had a highest speed of 206 miles per hour (332 km/h). On lap 22, Busch became the leader, but after leading one lap, Earnhardt took over the lead position. Three laps later, the first caution was given as a break during the race. Also on the same lap, Burton became the leader. Just after the caution was given, all the teams pitted. After ten minutes the racecars returned to the track for the restart. Burton remained the leader, ahead of Harvick, Kenseth, Earnhardt, and Johnson. On the 27th lap, the second caution was given because of an accident involving Earnhardt, Montoya, Smith, Edwards, and Logano. Two laps later, Johnson, Bowyer, and Hamlin pit for new tires. Before the restart on lap 34, it was announced that both Edwards and Earnhardt were out of the race. At the lap 34 restart, Burton remained the leader. On lap 36, the third caution was given because of an accident involving Kyle Busch, and Martin. During the caution, Hamlin pitted.
At lap 39, Burton remained the leader. On the following lap, Gordon became the leader, but after one lap, they were passed by Harvick and Burton. On the 42nd lap, Kyle Busch drove to the garage. Four laps later, Johnson, with assistance from Biffle, became the leader. On lap 48, Waltrip collided into the wall, prompting the fourth caution to be given. One lap later, it was announced that Kyle Busch was out of the race. At the lap 50 restart, Johnson remained the leader. Two laps later, Burton became the leader, after having assistance from Bowyer. On the 56th lap, Johnson reclaimed the lead, but after one lap, Kurt Busch passed him for the first position. On lap 59, Burton became the leader, as Hamlin moved to second. Four laps later, Newman became the leader, after assistance from Hamlin. On lap 70, Newman remained the leader ahead of Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and McMurray. On the final lap, Hamlin moved below the yellow line and became the leader, as Kurt Busch and McMurray were passing them. After Hamlin passed below the yellow line, Kurt Busch became the leader because Hamlin was not scored. McMurray scored second, while Newman finished third, ahead of Johnson and Biffle in fourth and fifth. Gordon, Harvick, Burton, Bowyer, and Labonte rounded out the top ten finishers in the race.
Kurt Busch appeared in victory lane after his victory lap to start celebrating his first win of the season, and his first on any restrictor plate track such as Daytona International Speedeway and Talladega Superspeedway, in front of a crowd of 80,000 people. Following his celebration he said, "McMurray was the man [Saturday night]. He stayed with us. He stayed true. I can't thank him enough for doing that. I hope it was the show the fans wanted to see." He also commented, "What an unbelievable experience, this two-car draft. I had no idea what to expect going in. I was just going to take it one lap at a time and see how it played out. I wanted to learn as the race went on how this Shell/Pennzoil Dodge raced."
McMurray, who finished second in the race, expained, "It's completely different plate racing than we've ever had. I hope it was exciting for the fans to watch. But from the driver's seat, it was actually really exciting to push two-by-two and do the side draft. It is awesome the runs you were able to get, so I hope the fans enjoyed it." In the post race press conference, Hamlin, who passed Newman below the yellow line, described his misfortune, "That yellow line is there to protect us and the fans in the stands, and I just chose to take the safer route. A win in the Shootout is not worth sending the 39 [Newman] through the grandstands. For me, as fast as we're running, if I got into his left rear, that car will go airborne." Edwards who was involved in the largest accident in the race, "We were three- or four-wide back there, and I was going between the 88 and the 78, and I don't think the 78 knew I was in there. He kept coming down, and I just had enough of my car in there. I laid up against the 88 and then the 78 got me in the right-front, but that's just everybody trying to get the best position they can so we can go out there and race." 7.8 million people watched the race on television.
Race Results 
|Wikinews has related news: NASCAR: Kurt Busch wins 2011 Budweiser Shootout|
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