DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After finishing in the runner-up position seven times, Kurt Busch finally captured a win at historic Daytona International Speedway in a thrilling finish in the 33rd annual Budweiser Shootout.

The victory marks Busch’s first restrictor-plate win, the first time Dodge has visited Gatorade Victory Lane in the star-studded race and the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the speedway’s new asphalt.

Busch was pushed to the lead by defending Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, who finished second after Denny Hamlin was relegated to 12th place for passing below the yellow line coming to the checkered flag.  Ryan Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 champion, led the last 12 laps and rounded out the top three.

“To experience victory lane here, no matter what the race is, is very special,” said Busch.  “I just have to thank Jamie McMurray; he stuck with us.  He had an unbelievable amount of power to push us and kept us in the mix.  When you have a friend like that, that’s what it takes.”

Jeff Burton, who led the race at the end of the first segment and finished eighth overall, led a race-high 32 laps.  Dale Earnhardt Jr., who drew the pole position, was caught up in a multi-car incident which brought out the race’s second caution of the night.  He finished 19th.

The 75-lap race included eight former Daytona 500 champions who have a combined 11 victories in “The Great American Race.”  Nine drivers exchanged the lead a record-breaking 28 times.

The Budweiser Shootout is a star-studded, non-points race that kicks off the season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The race is broken up into two segments of 25 and 50 laps, respectively, with a 10-minute break in between.  The field is comprised of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year drivers from 2001-2010 and previous winners at the “World Center of Racing.”  The starting positions for the 24-car field were determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party.
Actress Amber Heard served as the Grand Marshal and country music singer/songwriter, and former Broadway star, Laura Bell Bundy performed a pre- and post-race concert and the National Anthem.

Tickets for all of 2011 Speedweeks events, including the 53rd annual Daytona 500, are available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter ( and Facebook (