NEWMAN LEADS LATE, BUT FINISHES THIRD IN SHOOTOUT
WIX Filters Driver Scores Third Top-Five Finish in Nine Shootout Starts at Daytona
Ryan Newman led 12 of the last 13 laps in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, but coming off turn four of the 2.5-mile oval on the final lap, his challengers used slingshot moves to scoot around his No. 39 WIX Filters Chevy, relegating him to third.
Often in restrictor-plate racing at Daytona and its sister track at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the lead car is in a precarious position -- especially on the last lap. If the cars that are behind pull out of the draft, they can slingshot around the defenseless lead car, which is what Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin did to Newman as the four-car pack exited turn four on the 75th and final lap of the Budweiser Shootout.
"Well, I knew I was a sitting duck," said Newman, who notched his third top-five finish in nine Budweiser Shootout starts. "I wish it would've been just a two-car battle instead of a four-car battle, but that's selfish of me. I want to thank WIX Filters for the opportunity and to come here and sponsor us for this race.
"I didn't know what to expect other than the fact that I knew it was going to happen off of (turn) four. I didn't know if he (Hamlin) was going to go high or low, and I didn't know if I was going the right way, pointed in the right direction that the No. 22 (Busch) and the No.1 (McMurray) were going to go. It's a unique race and I'm glad we got back to the finish line in the way we did. That's the least scratched car we've ever had at a superspeedway in my history at Stewart-Haas Racing."
Hamlin actually crossed the finish line first, but was awarded 12th-place after NASCAR officials ruled he went below the double-yellow line at the bottom of the racetrack in order to advance his position. Because of the rule violation, Busch was declared the winner, while McMurray and Newman finished second and third, respectively.
Throughout the race, every car needed to draft with a second car in order to achieve maximum speed. Rather than running in one large pack as in previous years, the cars were separated into pairs for much of the night, while achieving speeds in excess of 200 mph. At the end of the race, however, a four-car pack formed, which surprised Newman.
"From what I had seen in practice, at times depending on the two cars that got together, they could break away from other two cars that were together, and we didn't see that at the end of the race tonight," Newman said. "So, I don't know if my car was off in speed or if it was just the way things worked out and the way the cars lined up between my car getting pushed by Denny's Toyota and a Dodge getting pushed by a Chevrolet or just the combination of four cars together. I'm not sure what we're seeing as far as the variations in that two-car or four-car breakaway."
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing, led three times for four laps before finishing 11th.