CAPTION: Feb 18, 2012; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (51) and Jeff Gordon (24) crash on the front stretch during the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
Kyle Busch celebrates his win in the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. Busch passed Tony Stewart at the finish line to take the victory.
Kyle Busch opens the 2012 season in stellar style, completing a burnout after winning the non-points Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Jeff Gordon's damaged car comes to a rest upside down on the frontstretch after a late-race crash at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon raced among the frontrunners late in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout and was running third when he crashed with less than two laps to go.
Kurt Busch (front, left), Jimmie Johnson (rear) and Jeff Gordon (rolling) endured a wild crash with less than two laps to go in Saturday night's non-points Budweiser Shootout. The crash was one of several in the Daytona International Speedway race.
Jeff Gordon (24) rolls down the frontstretch after making contact with Kyle Busch fighting for a top finish in Saturday night's race.
The car of Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (right) slides then rolls after being hit during the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon made contact with Kyle Busch, then shot up the track and into the car of Kurt Busch before being pushed over and rolling down the track.
What a finish!
Kyle Busch (18) beats Tony Stewart (14) to the finish line to win the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout Saturday night, the first race — though one without points — of the 2012 season.
They're a blur
Kyle Busch waited until the perfect moment to make his move on Tony Stewart, edging the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ at the line to take the Budweiser Shootout trophy.
Turn 1 crash
Sparks fly from the car driven by Kyle Busch (18) during a crash in Turn 1 during Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout.
Paul Menard (27), Matt Kenseth (17), Mark Martin (55) and David Ragan (34) crash early in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout.
Jimmie Johnson (48) hits Jeff Gordon (top) as Marcos Ambrose (9), Clint Bowyer (15) and Brad Keselowski (2) drive by late in Saturday night's race.
Off with a bang
Paul Menard (27), Matt Kenseth (17), Mark Martin (55) and David Ragan (34) crash in Turn 2 during the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday — part of a nine-car wreck in the early stages of NASCAR's 2012 debut.
Facing the wrong way!
David Ragan (27) gets a scary view as he spins out during the multi-car crash — the sight of other drivers coming right at him. And then ... Getty ImagesJamie Squire
... flames light the night as Paul Menard (27), Mark Martin (55) and David Ragan (34) crash in Turn 2 at the Budweiser Shootout.
His night is done
David Ragan's Ford is towed back to the garage after the spectacular crash.
A side view of David Ragan's car after the wreck.
Before the fireworks, the green flag is waved to start Saturday's NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Getty Images for NASCARTom Pennington
Under the lights in Daytona Beach, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, and Jamie McMurray, driving the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, lead a group of cars at the start of the Shootout. Getty ImagesJamie Squire
In the spotlight
Jimmie Johnson looks intense as the Budweiser Shootout is about to get under way.
Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet and Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town perform prior to the start of the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Getty Images for NASCARTom Pennington
Television personality Cesar Millan greets the crowd at Daytona.
The Budweiser Shootout trophy waits to see who will claim it Saturday night.
Fans fill the trioval prior to the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night in Daytona.
Flames fly high as the 25-driver field is introduced prior to the Budweiser Shootout.
Here they are
The field for the Budweiser Shootout lines up before the start of the non-points event. The race is generally a hotly contested showdown among NASCAR's top drivers.
Recording artists Little Big Town kicks off the Saturday night special race.
Nose to nose
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (51) and AJ Allmendinger (22) practice Friday for the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Busch had the fastest 10-lap average for the session, but was involved in a six-car crash that ended his day.
Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson had part of his Daytona 500 car confiscated Friday by NASCAR officials because of alleged illegal modifications. Sprint Cup Series officials determined the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegally modified C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows. It could lead to penalties for the team.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (88) leads Jimmie Johnson (48) through the tri-oval during practice Friday for the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Johnson later had his car confiscated by NASCAR officials for illegal modifications.
Legendary driver Richard Petty visits the garage of driver Marcos Ambrose during practice for the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Michael Waltrip (55), Joey Logano (20) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the way in practice Friday for the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, a 75-lap exhibition event to be held Saturday night.
Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart wrecked during Friday practice for the exhibition Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, a wreck that included Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon. Stewart was transported to the infield care center, treated and released.
Kurt Busch (51) spins his Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Chevrolet after being bumped by Tony Stewart (14) during practice at Daytona, forcing Busch into a backup car. During the prerace media session, Busch stressed how important it is for him to take care of his equipment because his under-funded Phoenix Racing team doesn’t have a fleet of cars to fall back on.
About 45 minutes into the season-opening practice session, six cars were involved in a crash, including Kurt Busch (51), Tony Stewart (14), Brad Keselowski (2) and A.J. Allmendinger (22).
Kurt Busch (51) spins out, causing Tony Stewart (14) and part of the field to pile up during practice for the Budweiser Shootout in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Tony Stewart walks away from the infield care center Friday after he was involved in a multi-car crash during practice. He seemed to start the melee by driving into the left side of Kurt Busch's rear bumper, turning the No. 51 Chevrolet sideways and setting off the wreck.
Life's a beach
Trevor Bayne drives his car through the North Turn, the same spot on the beach where NASCAR races were once held. The defending Daytona 500 champion then drove his car on the streets to the Daytona International Speedway.
Trevor Bayne took an unusual path to the track Friday morning. First, he put his Wood Brothers Racing car on the old beach course, then he drove through town to arrive at the track.
Defending Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne (center) answers questions near the old NASCAR beach course with NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France (right) and Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III.
Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, climbs out of his car along the same spot on the beach where the earliest NASCAR auto races were held after driving his Wood Brothers Racing car down the beach.