Bud Shoot-out: Little E goes back to front

Dale Earnhardt Jr claimed victory in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday evening, overtaking Jeff Gordon with five laps to go

Bud Shoot-out: Little E goes back to front

Earnhardt Jr's win was made more impressive by the fact that he was forced to start last in the 19-car field, as the starting order was determined by a lottery. The race featured previous winners of the event and all drivers who claimed a pole position last season.

The winning maneouvere came when Earnhardt Jr used a draft from Ryan Newman to storm round the outside of Gordon, who had started 18th on the grid. As the cars lined up double-file behind Gordon, the four-time Winston Cup champion was unable to challenge Junior.

The ease with which Earnhardt was able to charge through the field led some to suggest that he was playing possum for some of the event, but he insisted this was not the case. "We never really play with them," he said. "I've just always gone to the front. I want to be up front. A lot of these guys would rather me help them out and be a little more calm in the draft, but I want to be the guy leading."

However, Matt Kenseth was in no doubt that Earnhardt had a considerable car advantage. "It's about like the last three years, he's half-a-second faster than the other cars," he said. "This is the best car I've ever had for a speedway car, but when Junior wanted to go, he could really go. They've got something figured out."

Kenseth drove a clever race to finish third, ahead of Newman and last year's Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton. The race ran caution three, despite featuring frequent three-car wide racing. Drivers attributed the cool evening air with helping to make the tyres more stable. The event was run in the evening for the first time in its history.

By contrast to Eanhardt's storming performance, the driver who drew the pole position had no luck. Geoffrey Bodine was the race's only retirement, with suspension problems forcing him out after just three laps.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. 70 laps
Jeff Gordon 70
Matt Kenseth 70
Ryan Newman 70
Ward Burton 70
Ken Schrader 70
Jimmie Johnson 70
Ricky Rudd 70
Kevin Harvick 70
Ricky Craven 70
Kurt Busch 70
Rusty Wallace 70
Todd Bodine 70
Terry Labonte 70
Tony Stewart 70
Bill Elliott 70
Mark Martin 70
Dale Jarrett 70
Geoffrey Bodine 3, suspension

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Bodine lucks into pole position

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