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Rookie Hamlin takes Shootout victory

13 February 2006

Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Denny Hamlin, who took pole position last November at Phoenix in just his sixth Nextel Cup career start, beat the best the Nextel Cup field could throw at him as he soared to a surprise Bud Shootout win at Daytona.

Hamlin, whose has yet to win a points paying race in any of NASCAR's top three series, pulled a huge upset by passing his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart at the start of a green-white-chequered finish to claim his, and his #11 FedEx team's first race win. The 25 year-old driver also becomes the first rookie to ever win the Bud Shootout.

Hamlin and Stewart were two of several late race contenders in a race that saw pole winner Ken Schrader lead the majority of the opening 20-lap segment before dropping back to 14th in the final 50-lap sprint to the flag.

Jimmie Johnson was also a mainstay at the front of the pack, trading the lead with Schrader in the first segment and then leading convincingly at the start of segment two before finishing fifth, behind fourth place Scott Riggs, Stewart and eventual runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr, who was given the nod over Stewart only after officials had been given the chance to review photographic evidence from the start/finish line.

Although many of the 21 starters chose not to use their actual Daytona 500 cars, it was a rough night for several drivers who failed to make full use of their additional track time ahead of Thursday's two Gatorade qualifying races. Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon both suffered engine problems while Gordon was also involved in one of several incidents during the course of the race.

Brian Vickers was the main casualty of a mini seven-car incident caused when Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray made contact. Newman later retired while McMurray finished eighth after more contact in the second segment with his new Roush teammate Mark Martin.

Carl Edwards also suffered and lost out on a potential top finish when NASCAR penalised him twice for passing under the yellow out of bounds line. He would finish one lap down in 16th position.


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