Kevin Harvick gave Richard Childress Racing its first win in a year by taking top honors in the Budweiser Shootout for the second year in a row. The RCR driver was at the front of the field when the caution came out with less than two laps remaining of the 75 scheduled, as a multi-car wreck unfolded behind him when Greg Biffle got tapped by Jeff Gordon from behind.
Harvick was ill on Thursday and chose to skip practice at Daytona, but recovered to get back behind the wheel on race day and claim his second win at Daytona since his last points-paying victory, in the 2007 season opener. The 34-year-old raced his back-up car to victory after his primary machine got wrecked while driven by teammate Clint Bowyer during the practice he missed earlier this week.
"We were able to get the best restart we had all night and push [Biffle] out there and were able to just carry that momentum in to Turn One," said Harvick after winning his first race with crew chief Gil Martin. "I kind of dragged the brake a little bit to let [Kahne] get right up behind us to stay side by side with [Biffle] so that we didn't get any three-wide or anybody else involved in the mix. We were able to get a good push down the back. I don't know what happened after that."
Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne stayed on the track when the leaders pitted for the last time with just a handful of laps remaining, hoping to benefit from their improved track position, as only one attempt would be given at a green-white-checkered finish. Harvick was among a number of drivers who took on two new tires and he made the most of the fresh right-side Goodyears on the short sprint before the caution came out for the final time.
The first 25-lap segment of the event was led from flag to flag by polesitter Carl Edwards, who was only briefly challenged by Tony Stewart before the caution for a spinning Michael Waltrip came out to mark the end of the race's first segment.
Following a 10-minute break where teams pitted for tires, fuel and adjustments, the race started to move at the front, with McMurray leading his first lap on his return to Chip Ganassi Racing, just before Edwards got back in front again.
Stewart and Biffle also took turns in the lead, Edwards eventually shuffled back and then almost spun while being followed by Juan Pablo Montoya. Later he avoided an incident with Jimmie Johnson while battling for position in the middle of the pack.
Daytona 500 polesitter Mark Martin got into Kurt Busch, causing the former Cup champion to have his second wreck at Daytona in three days, having crashed during practice on Thursday. Both were competing in their back-up cars, as Martin had also been involved in a practice crash.
Kahne, McMurray, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five at the finish.