Busch Saves Best for Last

Kyle Busch

Busch nipped Stewart by .013-seconds, the closest finish in the 34 year history of the annual all-star race that kicks off Speedweeks, to score his first career victory in the Shootout. (Photo: Getty Images)


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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Kyle Busch rebounded from an incredible early race save to edge Tony Stewart for victory in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch nipped Stewart by .013-seconds, the closest finish in the 34 year history of the annual all-star race that kicks off Speedweeks, to score his first career victory in the Shootout.

The triumph came in the aftermath of an electrifying save Busch made when he was tagged from behind racing through turn two and somehow kept his car from spinning out in a shower of sparks at nearly 200 mph.

“I don’t know how many times I about spun out, but I didn’t spin out,” Busch said. “I’ve seen the move done before, it was my turn to do it this time.”

The scheduled 75-lap event - which was broken into 25 and 50 laps segments - was forced into overtime and a green-white-checkered finish that saw Stewart take the lead with one lap to go only to have Busch rocket around him off the final corner to score the thrilling victory.

"It feels great and to me I had a lot of fun out there tonight with all that was going on," Busch said. "This win certainly ranks up there. Being knocked around and spun around and then able to prevail....it was just a night to remember."

Stewart, who was involved in a practice crash on Thursday, did all he could do to try and keep the advantage on the final circuit.

"I knew he was going to do that," said Stewart. "There wasn't much I could do to hold him back. But it was a great race to the finish line and one I'm sure the fans liked a lot."

Marcos Ambrose followed the top two across the finish line in third with Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin rounding out the first finish finishers.

Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top ten.

The thrilling finish capped a wreck-filled event that included three multi-car accidents, as drivers navigated through the old big pack racing that returned to replace the tandem draft style of recent restrictor plate races.

The first crash of the night happened on lap 10 when David Ragan bumped Paul Menard from behind as the field raced through turns two and three to set off a chain reaction accident that swept up Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Kasey Kahne and others before the ten car melee was over.

"The old-style pack racing seemed less chaotic than this is because you can still get to the bumper and push, but just not for very long," Menard said of the new rules employed by NASCAR that created Saturday night's style of racing. "There is a lot of that going on in the middle of the pack."

Ragan said he was just a victim of the circumstances of the night.

“Everybody was real racy and I just got into the back of Menard,” Ragan said. “You get a good run and you’re pushing a little bit and I guess he was pushing whoever was in front of him and when you’ve got the meat in between the sandwich you usually get wrecked.”

Jamie McMurray ended the first segment as the leader, followed by Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Amrbose.

The second "Big One" of the night saw Martin Truex Jr. get turned and Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose and Kenseth caught in the aftermath.

The final accident was triggered racing through turn four and before it was over A.J. Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon found themselves involved with Gordon flipping violently several times before finally coming to rest upside down.

Gordon was finally removed from his precarious position uninjured after his wild ride.

"That's the first time I've been upside down in twenty years," Gordon said. "I'm okay but I'm not surprised things ended up as wild as they did tonight. Everyone was pretty aggressive."

Daytona 500 qualifying is set for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. (ET).

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