Australia’s Marcos Ambrose has finished third in the kick-off event to the NASCAR Sprint Cup season – the non-championship Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.
Ambrose led the field coming to the final lap, but was overhauled in a two-car train by Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.
Busch, the driver they call ‘Wild Thing’ jumped out to pass ‘Smoke’ in the final metres to grab the victory.
“I’m just really proud to run fast tonight,” said Ambrose.
“We’ve got a lot of steam under the hood this week, which is great. The Ford department has done a wonderful job with the engines.
“I’m out there driving the Stanley car with one lap to go thinking I’m gonna win the race and I get freight trained. There’s a lot to learn out there.
“From my seat it looks like everyone has got a lot of talent out there. You’ve got to have great cars and you’ve got to have a bit of luck and you’ve got to manage your race. It’s a combination of all three.”
The race featured three major wrecks, the first coming just nine laps in when Paul Menard started an eight car pile-up, David Ragan and Michael Waltrip eliminated.
The next big crash occurred on lap #58 when Ambrose tapped Joey Logano after having Martin Truex Jr pushing from behind. Taken out in the wreck were Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.
Finally, with drivers jostling for position coming to the final lap, Jeff Gordon ended upside down after he got together with Kyle Busch. Also in the crash were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray amongst others.
This meant the race was decided by a green-white-chequered finish – with a final two-lap dash to the flag.
Ambrose re-started in second place behind defending Sprint Cup Champion Stewart, but with Brad Keselowski in-behind he headed the field coming to the final official lap of the race. However, the Kyle Bush-Stewart freight train steamed around the outside into the lead. Ambrose did claw back some ground to finish just two lengths back at the finish.
Tomorrow all cars will take part in qualifying for the Daytona 500 with the top two positions locked-in for the race. In a qualifying format unique to the Daytona 500, all other positions will be determined by the twin 60-lap Gatarade Duels which will be run Friday morning Australian time.
Check out the Green-White-Chequered finish
2012 Unofficial Race Results : Budweiser Shootout
|1||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||M&M’s Brown||82||Running|
|2||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Mobil 1 / Office Depot||82||Running|
|4||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||82||Running|
|5||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Express||82||Running|
|7||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||U.S. Army / Quicken Loans||82||Running|
|8||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||82||Running|
|12||22||A.J. Allmendinger||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil||80||Running|
|13||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||79||Running|
|15||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Drive to End Hunger||73||Running|
|16||1||Jamie McMurray||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats||73||In Pit|
|18||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depot||54||In Pit|
|19||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||54||Running|
|20||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard||54||Running|
|21||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||54||Running|
|22||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Budweiser||54||In Pit|
|23||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Peak / Menards||8||In Pit|
|24||34||David Ragan||Ford||Scorpion Truck Bed Liners||8||Running|
|25||140||Michael Waltrip||Toyota||Aaron’s Dream Machine||8||Running|