Yours truly will take a look after each race weekend and recap things that were surprising from the even and compare it to some things that were not surprising.
Today we take a look at last night's Budweiser Shootout. It was the kickoff to what we all hope will be an exciting 2009 season, and provided some surprises, as well as some glimmers that this season could be much like last years.
Surprising—Joey "Sliced-Bread" Logano is in fact human. Logano wasted no time bowing out of his debut in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. Three laps into the race, Logano was caught up in a wreck (not of his own doing) and watched the remainder of the event from the garage area.
Many have hyped up the rookie and thought he would be competitive right out of the gate.
Not Surprising—Logano is in fact human. Remember people, Logano is an 18-year-old rookie. The wreck may not have been his fault (this time), but I have a feeling we'll see the No. 20 take a few spins throughout the season.
Surprising—Tony Stewart was competitive. Most people (not me, by the way, I picked him to win the event), figured Smoke would struggle right out of the gate. But he didn't. Though he never made it to the front of the field to lead a lap, he ran in the top-five most of the night and brought home a third place finish in his debut as an owner/driver.
Not Surprising—Kevin Harvick wins the cash on a last lap pass. OK, so we all remember the 2007 Daytona 500 where Harvick came out of nowhere and inched Mark Martin to the line don't we?
Happy worked his magic again on Saturday night and although he hadn't been mentioned most of the night, worked his way up through the field and took the lead as the cars wrecked behind him.
Surprising—Brian Vickers giving up the lead with less than 10 laps remaining to get tires. I'm not sure what the No. 83 team was thinking here. It was perfectly understandable for those in the back to stop and take tires to try and move to the front, but Vickers had exactly what everyone wants each weekend—clean air.
Not Surprising—Hendrick Motorsports showed they will be a force to reckon with at the Daytona 500. While none of the three HMS cars hoisted the trophy Saturday night, each spent their time leading the way with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team leading the most laps at 23. Gordon and Johnson each only led two laps, but come Daytona next Sunday, it won't be a surprise to see these three (as well as new teammate Mark Martin) pacing the field.
Surprising—Bobby Labonte didn't lead a lap. While Labonte has only one win in 64 career starts on a restrictor plate track, I really thought Saturday night would be a coming out party for the past champion and his new Yates Racing team.
Yates tends to do well on restrictor plate tracks, but Labonte simply couldn't hang up front and got caught up in a wreck. He finished 19th.
Not Surprising—A.J. Allmendinger finished fifth. Everyone may not be as impressed with this guy as I am, but Allmendinger proved in the final couple races of 2008 that he is a competitor. It's a shame that he may not be running the series full-time in 2009, because yet again he had a solid run.
He led the way for his manufacture and his team, and quietly collected a top-five in the kick-off event of 2009. If Richard Petty Motorsports can't find a spot for Allmendinger soon, someone else might!
That's a recap of the 2009 Budweiser Shootout. Qualifying takes place today (Sunday) and the first row of the 51st running of the Daytona 500 will be set. Today's qualifying also sets the fields for the upcoming Duels on Thursday, live on SPEED Channel.
Last night's racing got my blood pumping oil again...Forget Monday...is it Sunday yet?
Budweiser Shootout race facts from NASCAR:
- Harvick's win was his first in five appearances in the pre-season event
- It marked his fourt top-10 finish in five appearances for Harvick.
- Jamie McMurray's second place showing was his second top-10 finish and his best ever finish in four Shootout attempts.
- Tony Stewart earned his eigth top-five finish in 10 Shootouts. He finished third.
- The race had 23 lead changes and 14 leaders, both of which were records for the Shootout.