Jarrett wins Shootout in wild finish

Jarrett wins Shootout in wild finish

The 26th running of the Budweiser shootout promised thrills and spills, and it did not disappoint. The races final laps were a furious battle between Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In the end, Earnhardt fell in behind the No.

The 26th running of the Budweiser shootout promised thrills and spills, and it did not disappoint. The races final laps were a furious battle between Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In the end, Earnhardt fell in behind the No. 88 Ford and pushed Jarrett to his third Bud Shootout victory.

Dale Jarrett takes the the checkered flag in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr..
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"I couldn't have done it without Dale, Jr. beating the back bumper off this thing," said Jarrett. "But that's what I needed, was that push to go."

After a disastrous 2003 season, this is welcome medicine for Jarrett and his Robert Yates Racing Ford team. The last two times Jarrett has won the shootout, he went on to find victory lane at the Daytona 500.

"I am not saying we are completely back," said Jarrett. "But we are going to be a lot more competitive this year."

Kevin Harvick appeared to be a shoo-in for the victory, leading in the races closing laps, but out of nowhere Jarrett and Earnhardt caught Harvick and began to pressure the No. 29 Chevrolet. Jarrett maneuvered around Harvick for the lead and Earnhardt followed.

Earnhardt managed a second place finish, even though a lot of drivers seemed unwilling to draft with him.

"I didn't want to use that as an excuse," said Earnhardt of the field not working with him. "But I will go with that. I was pushing people to the front, but when someone was behind me they'd take the first opportunity to ditch me."

Earnhardt also blamed a poor set-up for his inability to pass the No. 88 Ford, but couldn't have been more pleased that Jarrett was the star of the evening.

"It was good to see him win," said Earnhardt. "I'm glad I could help him. I felt useful."

Harvick hung on for third.

Kevin Harvick leads Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win," said Harvick. "We just came up a little bit short."

Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, Terry Labonte, Jimmie Johnson, and Boris Said complete the top ten.

The race started out fairly calm, as Jamie McMurray led after the first twenty lap segment. McMurray began to slide to mid-pack and pole sitter Jeremy Mayfield emerged as the man to chase. Trouble for Mayfield on lap 59; however, saw his dreams of conquering the shootout curl up in a twist of sheet metal.

Mayfield got loose and drifted up into the No. 23 of Dave Blaney. The contact caused heavy damage to Mayfield No. 19 Dodge and to the gate on the backstretch. NASCAR brought the field down pit road and displayed the red flag, while repairs to the backstretch gate were made.

Under Shootout rules, cars are allowed to make adjustments to their cars on pit road under red flag conditions. The red flag lasted approximately thirteen minutes, before the cars were let loose for a seven lap battle to the checkered flag.

There was only one caution flag during the seventy-lap event, however, the Dodge's of Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman snarled on the races final lap.

"It's just unfortunate the way things happened there on the last lap," said Newman. "Everybody was trying to work hard. I was watching in the mirror and the 48 got into me a little bit. I was trying to crowd him down and he was trying to find a hole."

Notably, Mike Skinner in the No. 10 Chevy came across the line in fifth position, but he was penalized for dipping below the yellow line to improve his positions. He was sent to the tail end of the longest line, which relegated him to a 15th place result.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Robert Yates , Eric Gilbert , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing