This year's Budweiser Shootout was great, for the most part. It had just about everything: white nuckle racing, sentimental favorites and new faces running up front, and the sport's greats laying it all on the line for the victory. What it lacked was the most important thing of all: a thrilling finish.
In last year's Shootout there was exciting four wide action in the final laps until a last lap crash in turn three gave Kevin Harvick the win just moments after he made the winning pass around Jamie McMurray. This year's race was set up for another climatic finish, as it restarted with 2 laps to go.
Entering turn one, Harvick made what would become the winning pass on Greg Biffle, though Biffle raced him side-by-side down the backstretch, with a strong push from Jeff Gordon and teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, who had dominated the early stages of the event. However, entering turn three contact between Gordon and Biffle sent Biffle around as the cars on the outside line piled into each other, while Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray snuck by as the yellow came out.
Talk about a letdown of a finish. 78 laps of fantastic racing was all leading up to the race ending before the cars could get wound up to full speed. If only there could have been another shot at the restart, maybe the race would have had the finish it deserved.
The unfortuanate part of it all is that the race not only would have been better if it had finished under green, but it was supposed to.
"On TV it said it must end under green," third place finisher Jamie McMurray said in a post-race interview. Even race winner Kevin Harvick mentioned it during his interview on Speed channel's Nascar Victory Lane, after being asked when he knew he had won the Shootout.
"Let me just tell you, on the entry blanket it says 'race must finish under green,'" Harvick replied. "They're celebrating and I'm like, 'I don't think thats right.' I said 'race finish under green' is what I saw on the flyer. I never said anything on the radio until I saw the checkered flag."
Despite this, the race was ended for a wreck in turn three coming to the white flag. We can only speculate how the event may have concluded had another restart followed, though according to McMurray the race may have been best ending the way it had.
"There wouldn't have been anything left. They would have just kept wrecking."