Paul Menard's hopes of converting the pole position he drew in Thursday's lottery into victory in the Budweiser Shootout were dented - along with his #98 Quaker State Ford - in the closing stages of the non-points race, as several contenders were eliminated ahead of a green-white-chequered finish.
Polesitter Menard got loose in turn four on lap 64, igniting a four-car wreck that eliminated last year's Shootout winner Dale Earnhardt Jr, while the Fords of both Bobby Labonte and Greg Biffle were damaged in the incident
"Me and Kyle [Busch] were drafting on the inside and he gave me a real good run back in to the lead, but I just lost the right rear cause I just couldn't hold my car on the bottom, got up in to Jeff [Gordon] a little bit and kinda got shuffled through the middle to the back," Earnhardt said of the build-up to the accident, "I was just trying to regroup back there and figure out what to do. I knew there was going to be a wreck, but I was figuring on getting through the pack before it started happening and we didn't."
“The #98 was loose and I think somebody checked up in front of him as he was turning," Labonte offered, "I think I just barely touched him as he was going around and he must have hit the #88 because the #88 came back and hit me. That's what it looked like to me.”
With just the top few places being rewarded in the non-points event, there was a lot of action in the midfield, and Biffle was again a victim when he was turned around by David Stremme a few laps later.
“It pays to win that thing, and that's what happens when you're running hard like that," he admitted, "I have to watch the replay. I don't know if I came down on him or he kind of drifted up, but that we were back there by ourselves is what's kind of odd.
"It's a little give-and-take when you're in your own lane, but down there, with Jeff Gordon going into that corner, somebody shoved him four-wide and I tried to get up and leave Kasey [Kahne] room, leave Jeff room and leave all those guys room. I just don't know what happened.”
Another pre-race favourite, Kyle Busch, was also caught out, the #18 M&M's Toyota dropping to tenth despite running near the front virtually the entire night, after being run into from behind while the accident developed just in front of him on the final lap of the 78-lap race.
“I was on the bottom going into [turn] three and they started wrecking in front of me,” he said, “I turned low to try to get away from it and got hit in the back by the #9. I halfway spun out, but saved it and didn't hit anything, so we didn't tear the M&M's Toyota up too bad.”