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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR's first attempt at additional green-white-checkered finishes was a huge success.
It created drama.
It created excitement.
And, most important, it let the Daytona 500, the biggest Sprint Cup race of the season, finish under green.
Had the governing body not gone from one attempt to allowing up to three, the race would have ended before the first lap of the first two-lap shootout was over because of a crash that brought out the caution.
It would have ended with Greg Biffle in Victory Lane, and we never would have seen Jamie McMurray's emotional celebration or Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s amazing run through the middle of the field to go from 10th to second.
The only surprise was nobody crashed before McMurray took the white flag on the second restart, and we didn't have a third and final restart.
"The fans deserve probably more of a show, so that's what they got," Earnhardt said. "The green-white-checkered flag was put into play to give us an opportunity to finish the race under green.
"Finishing under yellow is, you know, quite a melodramatic moment compared to having a race finish under green. This gives us the opportunity to get it done if we don't get it done the first time."
NASCAR implemented the rule following the Budweiser Shootout, in which Kevin Harvick coasted to the win under caution because of a wreck at the beginning of the final restart. The governing body decided to add two more attempts at a two-lap shootout despite minor opposition from drivers concerned about fuel mileage and potential carnage.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon suggested a one-lap shootout.
But in the end, NASCAR made the right call here. It was especially rewarding Sunday, considering fans were put through more than two hours of red-flag stoppage to repair a hole between Turns 1 and 2.
Had they gotten a finish under caution on top of that, there would be more grumbling around the water cooler Monday than NASCAR wants as it tries to improve television ratings and attendance.
"The fans deserve to see that race conclude under green," said Kyle Busch, who finished 14th. "Maybe three is too much. Maybe two. I'll go for two."
Busch wasn't alone. Several other drivers suggested two restarts might be enough.
"Three might be a little excessive," said Biffle, who finished third. "We kind of got caught because the [first] attempt wasn't considered a green-white-checkered because it was under the normal amount of laps. That kind of made it extraordinary.
"Yeah, I mean, a couple of times you need to try and get it finished."
There were some losers in this, Biffle above all because he wasn't celebrating at the champion's breakfast Monday. Harvick was sent from a potential top-3 to seventh. Jeff Burton fell to 11th when he was in position for a top-5. Scott Speed fell all the way to 19th after being in the top five.
"The multiple green-white-checkereds worked for some and not for others," Gordon said. "It was just a mess out there. ... Those last laps were bumper cars at 195 mph. There is no other way to describe it. It is crazy. It is moments like that you wish some things were different.
"That is what we do. And you know what? It puts a heck of a show on most of the time and madness the others. You want to see a great finish, and there was a great finish for the win. From about 10th on back, it was pretty ugly."
Mark Martin, who survived the carnage to finish 12th, summed it up best:
"I don't like it, but the fans do," he said. "I'm very glad that's over with. Can't wait to get out [to California] to the real racetrack and do some normal stuff."
Martin and Earnhardt might share a shop at Hendrick Motorsports, but they don't share the belief that Daytona needs resurfacing -- even after the hole turned into an embarrassment for the track and sport.
"No. Please don't resurface the track," Martin said. "We will turn over then for sure. It'll be just like Talladega. There's nothing wrong with the track. Just fix the whole. Dig deeper."
Nationwide Series: Stewart wins, but Patrick steals show
So what did you miss among all the craziness surrounding Danica Patrick making her NASCAR debut, Tony Stewart winning yet another Daytona race not called the 500 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. sliding down the track on his hood while in the lead?
Defending series champion Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski got into it on the final lap, leaving Busch 18th and Keselowski 11th. Steve Wallace recorded his first Daytona top-10, and Justin Allgaier was fourth.
"It was an amazing day," Allgaier said.
But mostly, this was about Patrick. She was running around 25th and improving when she got caught up in a wreck on Lap 69 that left her 35th. She gained valuable experience that will help her when she gets to California this week.
And then there were her souvenir sales. The lines were six- to 10-people deep Saturday and much of the weekend. Although other drivers outsold her because they had more trailers, her single-trailer sales were believed to be No. 1.
That's the kind of impact NASCAR wants.
Camping World Truck Series: Rough start for rookie owner Busch
Kyle Busch's debut as an owner/driver was less than spectacular, but he handled it well.
The driver who won more Truck series races (seven) last season than anybody finished 22nd, 17 laps down, after being involved in an early incident. His team's other driver, Tayler Malsam, finished 17th, six laps down.
"It's frustrating," Busch said. "These guys worked all winter long and did everything they could to prepare great trucks. It just shows how fast that thing was, even tore up. We went straight to the front, we led a couple of times and that thing was fast. There's really nothing else I could have done."
Last but not least, there was final shot by Busch at Danica Patrick, who wasn't even in the race.
"As long as I got TV time, that's all that matters," he said. "As long as I took Danica's spot in this race, I'll be all right."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Racing Resources Says
Sprint Cup Series
- Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. It was his first start with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The last driver to win in his first start with a new team was Michael Waltrip in the 2001 Daytona 500.
- McMurray became the 34th winner of the "Great American Race." It was his first victory in eight starts in the 500. He is the ninth Daytona 500 winner in the past nine races. It was his fourth Cup victory in his 259th start. Three of his four victories were on restrictor-plate tracks. It was his second series victory at Daytona in 15 starts -- his last Daytona win came in July 2007.
- McMurray's last Cup victory was at Talladega in November 2009.
- McMurray's previous best 500 finish was 26th in 2008.
- McMurray led once for the final two laps, the fewest laps led by a Daytona 500 winner (previous record was four laps by Benny Parsons in 1975 and Kevin Harvick in 2007).
- Harvick (seventh) led the most laps in the race, leading seven times for 41 laps.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (second ) posted his first top-10 finish in the past 13 races. It was his best finish since a runner-up finish at Talladega in April 2009.
- Greg Biffle (third ) posted his best Daytona finish since a win at Daytona in July 2003.
- Clint Bowyer (fourth ) posted his third top-10 in five Daytona 500s. He also finished fourth in this race in 2009.
- David Reutimann (fifth ) posted his first top-10 in four Daytona 500s.
- Pole-winner Mark Martin finished 12th.
- Chevrolet scored its 21st Daytona 500 victory. Ford has 11 Daytona 500 victories, Dodge has four and Toyota has never won the 500.
- No rookie contenders were in the 500.
- There were four first-time starters in the Daytona 500: Robert Richardson (31st), Michael McDowell (33rd), Brad Keselowski (36th) and Max Papis (40th).
- Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th.
- The top 10 consisted of five Chevrolets, three Fords and two Toyotas.
- The 21 different leaders were a record for the 500.
- It was the fourth green-white-checkered in the 500.
- Tony Stewart won the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. It was his ninth series victory in his 90th career start. It was his sixth career restrictor-plate victory, tying Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for most all time. It also was his fifth Nationwide win at Daytona, all in February, tying Dale Earnhardt Jr. Only Dale Earnhardt has more February Nationwide wins at Daytona with seven. Stewart has won seven of his past 12 series starts.
- Stewart led four times for 38 of the 120 laps raced, most by any driver.
- Chevrolet posted its 25th series victory in 37 Daytona races.
- This marked Stewart's 15th overall Daytona win.
- Kevin Harvick Inc. posted its third series win at Daytona.
- Carl Edwards (second) has finished third or better in the past three races at Daytona.
- Harvick (third) posted his 11th top-5 finish in 16 Daytona races.
- Justin Allgaier (fourth) posted his career-best finish.
- Brian Vickers (fifth) has scored top-10 finishes in his past three races at Daytona.
- James Buescher (eighth) was the highest-finishing rookie among the four rookies in the race. He started 11th.
- Danica Patrick (35th) and Chrissy Wallace (43rd) became the 13th and 14th female drivers to compete in the Nationwide since the series was formed in 1982.
- Patty Moise leads all women with 133 series starts.
- The top 10 consisted of four Toyotas, three Chevrolets, two Fords and one Dodge.
- Edwards was the the highest-finishing Ford.
- Allgaier (fourth) was the highest-finishing Dodge.
- Vickers (fifth) was the highest-finishing Toyota.
- The first Nationwide race was run 28 years ago this date (1982) and won by Dale Earnhardt.
Camping World Truck Series
- Timothy Peters won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 At Daytona International Speedway. It was his second win in his 69th start. Peters led twice for five laps.
- Peters has scored 12 top-10 finishes, including two wins, in the past 18 races since joining Red Horse Racing.
- Red Horse Racing posted its fourth series win, the first win at Daytona.
- Toyota posted its fourth win at Daytona. Chevrolet has yet to win at Daytona in 11 series races.
- First-time pole-winner Jason White finished fourth.
- Todd Bodine (second) came within feet of winning his third consecutive race at Daytona.
- It was the third last-lap pass at Daytona (2005 and 2007).
- Bodine led the most laps (32). It was the fourth time the leader of the most laps failed to win at Daytona.
- Brett Butler finished 11th, the highest finisher of the five rookie of the year contenders in the race.
- Nelson Piquet Jr. (sixth) and Justin Lofton (18th) made their series debut.
- Twenty-one trucks were involved in accidents, including favorites Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Elliott Salder.
- Carlos Contreras led Lap 77; no race winner has led Lap 77. Lap 77 is the only lap an eventual race winner has yet to lead.
-- Racing Resources