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And we officially have our first "Wow, that was a little intense" wreck of the 2012 season, as Jeff Gordon went a-tumbling in the closing laps of Saturday night's Bud Shootout. Gordon was attempting to nudge Kyle Busch out of the way and set off a reaction that ended with Gordon himself cartwheeling sideways on the track apron. He was fine, the eternal reminder of how safe these cars are, but it was a spooky few moments as his car kept shedding piece after piece and didn't slow down.
"This was not how I wanted to start the 2012 season," Gordon said after clambering out of the flipped vehicle. "I've never been upside down in one of these cars. The hit to the wall was much harder than the rest of it. The roll was pretty soft and pretty easy. The protection we have inside of these cars is amazing because I didn't even hardly feel any of it. The toughest part is when you're laying upside down and you can't get out of the car. The roof was caved in a little bit and that was no fun."
NASCAR couldn't have asked for a better advertisement for the "we watch for the wrecks" crowd, and considering the way the field thinned out Saturday night, the Daytona 500 literally is any driver's race to win. If you're on the track, you're in the mix ... and also in the line of fire.