19 February 2012
Busch survives wrecks to pip Stewart
"When we came off 2, he had me sideways, and then all the way down the backstretch, I was still sideways - left, right, left, right, everywhere," he continued. "Then we were off into 3 and he turned me sideways again ... Just kind of moving me around, I think trying to move me out of the way."
Gordon didn't quite see it that way: "I was joking with somebody that he was the one wrecking that I was trying to avoid and I'm the one that ended up wrecking and he wins the race!"
As an independent third party witness, Jimmie Johnson came down on Gordon's side of the fence, despite being impressed by Kyle Busch's survival instincts.
“He was driving the wheels out of that thing trying to keep it from spinning," said Johnson, saying that the #18 had looked real loose. "He had an amazing save earlier in the day and nobody wrecked. That time, it just got a little too loose on him and it came up the track ... The next thing you know the #24 was up on his side and I was staring at his exhaust pipes for a while."
As a result of the wreck, the race went seven laps beyond the scheduled race distance and into a green-white-chequered finish scenario, with Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski making up the front four for the green flag. Ambrose was pushed to the lead by Keselowski, but the real threat were coming up fast from further back.
Undeterred by the hair raising events of the night so far, Kyle Busch was back - and he had selected race leader Tony Stewart to form a temporary alliance with, the #18 pushing the #14 clear out in front. Once the white flag came out it was a matter of "next flag finishes the race" and it was all about which of the two of them had a nose in front when it happened.
Just 100 yards from the finish line, Busch made his move and slingshot out of the final turn to slip past Stewart on the outside line to manage to lead by just 0.013s at the line.
"Coming to the line, I've been in that situation - reversed - before with Tony," said Busch. "Hadn't ended up so well. This time it turned out all right. We made it past him and beat him to the line."
Although he'd lost out, Stewart was overall happy with the evening's work. It had been the first time the Cup field had driven with the new electronic fuel injection systems, and followed a slew of regulation changes designed to restore pack racing to NASCAR. In Stewart's eyes, it had all been a success.
"I had fun racing at Daytona again, which I haven't had for a while," he said. "This is better than having to sit there and stare at the back of a spoiler for 500 miles."
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