The 2009 NASCAR racing season was not very good to Richard Childress Racing and his four Chevrolet drivers.
RCR not only went winless as a team, but neither of his teams were able to qualify for the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Clint Bowyer’s 15th-place finish was tops for the team. With the 2010 season about to get underway, a win at the Budweiser Shootout could possibly give the team the confidence they need to get back to their winning ways.
RCR has earned six checkered flags in the Budweiser Shootout in each of these years 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 with driver Dale Earnhardt, and 2009 with driver Kevin Harvick.
RCR will field entries for both Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick in this year’s All-Star event. This is the second consecutive season that the Welcome, N.C.-based organization has had multiple entries in the Budweiser Shootout’s 31-race history.
Burton and Harvick became eligible for the 32nd annual season-opening event by being past race winners at Daytona International Speedway.
Burton visited Victory Lane in July 2000, while Harvick captured the checkers in the 2007 Daytona 500 and the 2009 Budweiser Shootout.
The new qualifying rule will showcase a strong lineup of drivers who were last season’s top performers and previous race winners at the sport’s most-storied race track.
The star-studded field will compete in two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a 10-minute pit stop between segments to allow teams to visit pit road should they elect to change tires, add fuel, and make chassis adjustments.
The 2007 Daytona 500 winner and the No. 29 Shell Pennzoil Racing team claimed victory in the 2009 Budweiser Shootout.
Harvick took the lead on the final lap and took the checker on a green-white-checker finish, marking his first win in five attempts in the non-points season opener at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway.
In five Budweiser Shootouts, the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team has finished in the top 10 four times. It was RCR’s first win in the annual season opener since Dale Earnhardt won in 1995.
The helmets of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil over-the-wall crew members will don special decals for the 2010 season in a tribute to former rear-tire changer Donald "DJ" Richardson, Jr.
Richardson, Jr., a native of Leominster, Mass., passed away at the age of 37 from complications of the H1N1 virus.
He joined RCR in July 2009 and finished the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as a member of the No. 29 team.
The 2005 Sprint Cup All-Star Rear-Tire Changer Champion began his Cup Series career with Andy Petree Racing in 1999.
He also worked for Penske Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Braun Racing.
“It was a good night for the Shell Pennzoil team last year and a great way to kick off the season, as the defending winners, the Shell Pennzoil team is looking forward to getting back to Daytona and going for two wins in a row," said Harvick.
Harvick also added, “We had a car that was good from the time we unloaded it, and ended up using that same car in the Daytona 500 after we wrecked the primary in practice. We finished second in the (Daytona) 500 with it, so it was a good car for us and a good weekend for us in Daytona.”
In four Budweiser Shootout starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Burton boasts one top-five and two top-10 efforts.
His best finish of fifth came in 2001 after taking the green flag 16th.
The veteran driver also has a 13th-place average starting position and a 14.25 average finish.
Todd Berrier is the Budweiser Shootout’s defending race winning crew chief.
Berrier visited Victory Lane last season when driver Harvick captured the 2009 Budweiser Shootout victory.
The Kernersville, N.C., native was named crew chief of the Cat Racing team in October 2009 and starts his first full season calling the shots for Burto this weekend in Daytona.
“I’ve always said that I don’t like standing on the sidelines when there is a race going on. So, with that, I’m excited to be a part of the Budweiser Shootout this season,” said Burton.
Burton also added that, “The new qualifying format showcases drivers who have been victorious at Daytona and I think this year’s event will not only be very competitive, but the mix of drivers will add a lot of excitement for the fans. The sooner we get in the cars, the better.”