Daytona International Speedway Introduced To Two-Car Drafts; Drivers React

Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout marked the first time two-car drafts have been widely used at Daytona International Speedway – or anywhere, for that matter.

Drivers quickly discovered in preseason testing that with a combination of the new nose, new pavement and other factors, two cars could hook up and go faster than the pack.

It was a completely new form of racing that no one in NASCAR had ever seen before. But what did the drivers think of it?

Ryan Newman, who finished third, said called it "the most unexpected race I've ever been a part of."

"My spotter was driving for me as if I was the car in front of me when I was behind somebody pushing," Newman said. "You're at the mercy of his perception of car lengths and speed."

Drivers said that as the "pusher" car, they couldn't see over the spoiler of the car in front of them. And the leading car was basically being driven by the pusher – Newman even said he had no control as Jeff Gordon pushed him straight through a wreck.

Kevin Harvick, a pusher late in the race, was running his car so wide-open that he kept hitting the rev-limiter and was unable to stay tucked up underneath Gordon.

So Harvick told his spotter to go stand next to Gordon's spotter, Jeff Dickerson, and tap Dickerson on the shoulder whenever Harvick needed to relay a message to Gordon.

"Check up! Check up!" Harvick would say, and Gordon would get on the brakes.

Harvick's crew gave him the green light to pull the wires out of the rev-limiter, but he couldn't quite reach it.

"I would have (deactivated it), I will promise you that," he said.

Gordon said the new style of racing was a learning process "for everybody – the fans, for NASCAR, for us."

"It's a lot harder that it looks and it's just trying to get the right guy to either push or push you," Gordon said afterward. "Right there at the end, we had the right guy – I thought – but he kept hitting the rev-limiter. Every time he did, he fell off me so I just kept having to back up to him and back up to him."

Five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson called the two-car drafts "a whole new game for sure."

"Interesting and fun to do something different," he said.

Not everyone shared Johnson's enthusiasm. Matt Kenseth, who was left behind when he couldn't find a drafting partner and lost all hope of contending, said it was "not really that great' and "isn't really that much fun."

"If you're the pusher, you can't see a thing and with going 207 miles an hour and pushing someone when you can't see, it's not a lot of fun," Kenseth said. "At the end there, I was the odd man out because I couldn't get with a group of two.

"Everybody was grouped up in twos, and if you can't get with one other car in a group, you're pretty much done and you're just gonna fall back."

Kyle Busch, whose two-car draft came to an abrupt end when he was spun by Mark Martin, said the synchronized racing was "a little nerve-wracking."

"You know the guy behind you can't see, so you have to make slow, subtle moves," he said. "You can't make too fast of moves because otherwise, you get spun out."

Busch was asked if this type of racing would be acceptable for the Daytona 500.

"It's going to be what we got," he said. "It's not going to change here in the next week or two."

Related: What did you think of the two-car drafts? Vote in our poll.

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