Many of today's Sprint Cup drivers come from the short track days. They can probably relate many stories about good 'ol beating and banging racing. Whether it's sparks flying on the asphalt or mud slinging from the dirt tracks, everyone loves a good shootout.
On Feb. 7, 2009 NASCAR will hold their own shootout when the 31st Annual Budweiser Shootout is held in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Shootout officially kicks off each years Speedweeks. The context of the race is simple, it's a flat out, Saturday night dash for cash. There are no points on the line, the only thing that matters is going fast to get the cash.
In 1979 the first race was run under the name Busch Clash and Buddy Baker won the inaugural event. In 1998 the name changed to Bud Shootout and Rusty Wallace took home the prize. And in 2001 it became the Budweiser Shootout and Tony Stewart won his first of so far three event wins.
The Shootout used to consist of all pole winners from the previous season as well as past winners of the event. However, NASCAR changed the eligibility for this years event, opening it up to only the top six drivers from each manufacturer—Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota-from the previous years final owner points standings.
What this means is that drivers who were once in are now out and drivers that were once out are now in. Take for instance Tony Stewart and Joey Logano. Stewart would have been in the Budweiser Shootout driving his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota but when he decided to form his own team and drive a different car, Logano got the shoe-in.
Another interesting drivers note for this years race is Juan Pablo Montoya who is eligible for the Shootout but will not be in the race. Montoya earned a spot with his Ganassi Dodge team however, when Ganassi merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and decided to run Chevrolet's, he became ineligible.
So, let's settle who's in and who's out.
- Jimmie Johnson (48)
- Kevin Harvick (29)
- Casey Mears (07—Takes Clint Bowyer's spot. Bowyer out.)
- Jeff Burton (31)
- Jeff Gordon (24)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88)
- Kasey Kahne (9)
- David Stremme (12—Takes Ryan Newman's spot. Newman out.)
- Kurt Busch (2)
- Elliott Sadler (19)
- No driver yet named (10)
- Reed Sorenson (43—The sixth spot will be for the driver of the No. 43 if there is one. Robby Gordon would have gotten the spot but he has switched manufacturers to Toyota for 2009. This would have been Montoya's spot.)
- Carl Edwards (99)
- Greg Biffle (16)
- Matt Kenseth (17)
- David Ragan (6)
- Jamie McMurray (26)
- Travis Kvapil (28)
Five of these cars are the five Roush-Fenway cars and Kvapil runs a Roush-Yates engine.
- Denny Hamlin (11)
- Joey Logano (20—Takes Tony Stewart's spot. Stewart out)
- Kyle Busch (18)
- Brian Vickers (83)
- David Reutimann (00—Reutimann returns to 00 this season)
- Michael Waltrip (55)
The format for the Budweiser Shootout is not run like any other race and NASCAR has changed the format for this season's event. The race will consist of 75 laps broken up into two segments with the first being 25 laps and the final segment being 50 laps.
"Fifty laps is forever on that track," Dale Earnhardt Jr. says. "It would be a lot more exciting for the fans and a lot more fun for us if we only did 10 laps at the end."
Denny Hamlin agrees. "Only racing 10 laps at the end would be better. The tires go away pretty fast at Daytona, but they still would have a lot of grip for just 10 or 15 laps. We could really go out and the racing would be a lot closer."
Between each segment there will be a 10 minute pit stop in which the only changes allowed done to the car are those that would normally be done during a pit stop.
The starting lineup will be determined two days before the event on Thursday night on the Speed Channel when the drivers will randomly draw numbers which will be their starting spot.
And this seasons event will feature only four past winners, Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., all from Hendrick Motorsports, and Denny Hamlin from Gibbs Racing.
Look for any Hendrick or Gibbs driver to start Speedweeks off in victory lane.