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WIN: Sparks Fly in Shootout!

Kyle Busch deftly avoided several wrecks and made a thrilling a pass of Tony Stewart just before the finish line to capture The Bud Shootout tonight at Daytona International Speedway.

The win was the first Shootout victory for Toyota as well as for Busch. Teammate Denny Hamlin managed to overcome an early accident to finish fifth, while Joey Logano was involved in an accident with 20 laps to go and finished 18th.

The Budweiser Shootout is a non-points event that has become a pre-season tradition in NASCAR since 1979. The 75-lap event is run in two segments this year. First a 25-lap run that is followed by a 10-minute trip to pit road for teams to make adjustments to the cars. Once restarted it is a 50-lap run to the finish that has become famous for exciting racing and tonight was no exception.

Although Kyle Busch selected the second starting position in last night’s draw for the Shootout, NASCAR ruled he would have to start the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota from the back of the field after the team was forced to go to a backup car following an accident in Friday afternoon’s practice session. Busch didn’t stay in the back long, however, as he quickly moved into the top ten and raced near the front of the field through much of the first 25-lap segment. Busch remained near the front of the field through the early portion of the second segment until he was nearly turned by the No. 48 car on lap 47. Remarkably Busch managed to save his M&Ms Camry from sure disaster. He would remain on the track and when a caution came out on lap 55 it allowed the 18 pit crew the opportunity to work on the car. As the race neared its conclusion Busch would once again display his incredible driving skills saving his Camry once more from major damage. Once again the 18 team went to work and was able to make the needed repairs to allow Busch the opportunity to restart at the back of the pack for a green-white-checkered finish. Busch would quickly work his way forward on the restart and found himself pushing Tony Stewart to the lead on the final lap. As the two came off of turn four for the final time, Busch would make his move to the outside to make the pass and claim victory.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the 16th position and was running well through the early going until he got caught up in the night’s first accident on lap 9. Although Hamlin managed to avoid major damage, his car needed work and he would ultimately fall two laps off the pace. He would get one lap back on lap 25 when the scheduled caution came out and he was able to return to the lead lap shortly after the ten-minute break when another caution came out on lap 31. Hamlin would remain toward the back of the field and managed to avoid big wrecks on lap 55 and again on lap 75. He would go on to finish fifth.

Meanwhile Joey Logano started the night in the 10th position in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota and proved fast from the outset as he made his way to the front of the field to led a lap early on. Logano would remain inside the top ten through much of the first 25-lap segment and was battling for the race lead with 20 laps to go when a big wreck ended his night early. Logano would get turned from behind sending him up the track and into oncoming traffic. The result was major damage to his Home Depot Camry that left Logano with an 18th-place finish.

The starting front row for the Daytona 500 will be decided Sunday during a qualifying session at 1 PM. The rest of the line up for the Daytona 500 will be decided by a pair of Duel races on Thursday afternoon. Tomorrow’s qualifying session will be broadcast live on Fox at 1 PM, while the Duel races can be seen on SPEED starting at 2 PM on Thursday.

The Great American Race will once again provide the official start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when Fox broadcast the Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway next Sunday, February 26 at 1 PM. The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 128.