NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2010 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

It’s not easy to mesh with a new team overnight. It’s not easy to adjust to new equipment, either. But Jamie McMurray did both on Saturday night, forcing his way to the front for a couple of laps before finishing third for his new Earnhardt-Ganassi team. Ganassi is a familiar face, having fielded cars for McMurray from 2002-2005, but the rest of the No. 1 team is new to McMurray, who takes over the seat from Martin Truex Jr. this year.

What… was THAT?

This week the “What did NASCAR do now?” question has a positive outcome. When NASCAR decided to back off and allow bump drafting, it could have been a disaster-but for the most part, the drivers took care of their own, and the pushing and shoving made for a fun race to watch. Only one incident might have come from a bump, and even that one is doubtful – it was the last lap when Jeff Gordon got into Greg Biffle. Biffle may have had a tire going down, so the bumping may not even have been the cause.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

Up against the wall as the field steamed under the white flag. Carl Edwards drew the pole for the race and led the entire first segment before getting shuffled to the back. He nearly tangled with Jimmie Johnson earlier in the segment, trying to force his way into the bottom line, but escaped that mishap only to get caught in the aftermath of Biffle’s late-race spin, finishing 17th.

When… will I be loved?

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d give the “I caused a wreck and now I’m not feeling the love” award to Mark Martin. Martin tried to fit his car into a space just a few inches too small, and turned Kurt Busch, sending Busch on a wild ride through the infield grass. Even Busch was reluctant to blame Martin, because the crash was obviously unintentional, though, and there will be no hard feelings when the big race rolls around next weekend.

Why… are some of these guys in the race?

Any active past Daytona winner is eligible – but did it seem slightly silly to see drivers like Derrike Cope in the race? While John Andretti at least ran much of the Cup Schedule last year, his last win at DIS was in 1997, and that win is his only top-10 finish at the track. Cope got his Daytona win nearly 20 years ago and has run just one Cup race since 2006. Ken Schrader’s inclusion makes a bit more sense – Schrader is at least a past winner of this event and one of a handful of drivers to win it twice in a row. Still… it seems like a couple of drivers were there on shaky reasoning, at best.

How… much better is Kevin Harvick feeling?

Kevin Harvick is probably feeling pretty darn good after his second consecutive Shootout win. Harvick was so sick on Thursday that he wasn’t even in Daytona – Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton practiced for him – but bounced back to win in classic Harvick fashion. Harvick got to the front and then held off all comers en route to the win, a record seventh for car owner Richard Childress. Harvick has hinted that his tenure at Richard Childress Racing will be over after the 2010 season, so he’s showcasing his talent for prospective teams, as well as looking for a little redemption after a dismal 2009.

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