This race is the appetizer before the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, next Sunday. This also gives the Sprint Cup drivers and teams to adjust to the newly paved Daytona International Speedway from engines, drafting partners and fuel changes. Lastly, it gives NASCAR fans a relatively brief race to watch although it will progress late through the night.
This race still doesn’t compare to the festivities and the drama surrounding the Daytona 500 next week. Now to the post-race analysis:
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the pole in the beginning but dropped again to 3rd. It’s not as bad as some of actual Sprint Cup races where he fell into the middle of the pack and could not recover beyond 15th or so.
- Pairings of cars helps picks up speed, particularly against an aggressive pack of drivers behind you.
- Jeff Burton got 1st place and Matt Kenseth got 4th on the first 25 laps of this race. Both are X-factors when the season officially begins next week.
- On lap 29 of the Shootout, Regan Smith initially collided with Carl Edwards. Edwards then clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr. rear bumper and started a whole spillover including Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and others. I think this looks like the forecast for the Dayton 500.
- Two-car drafting works most of the time, but when it doesn’t work, it causes severe wrecks.
- Jimmie Johnson is still the man of the Sprint Cup Series. He led the race at 3/4ths of the race at lap 50.
- Jeff Gordon stuck around 5th or so in the early part of the second segment. It appeared he was biding his time for his final move in the last few laps of the Shootout, but it didn’t come to fruition.
Kurt Busch won the Budweiser Shootout, partially from Denny Hamlin‘s drive through the boundary line for the lead. The dual car tandems were the theme of this race, and the average speed of this race seemed to swing from 195 mph to 205 mph.
The Great American Race is on next Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the adjustments made this week will affect the Daytona 500.