With the 2010 Budweiser Shootout in the books, its time to look ahead to next Thursday’s Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races, which will set the final field for next Sundays Daytona 500.
Will this be another season that Hendrick Motorsports dominates the Sprint Cup series as it did last season, or can one of the other organizations step-up and challenge this almost unstoppable team?
The Hendrick engine and chassis package stole the spotlight during qualifying on Saturday by putting two of their drivers on the front row. Three other drivers also posted speeds within the top 10.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Mark Martin took the pole with a qualifying speed of 191.188 MPH, followed by his HMS teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who clocked the second fastest speed of the day at 190.913 MPH.
Stewart Haas driver Ryan Newman, who won the 500 back in 2008 while driving for Penske Motorsports, posted the third fastest speed at 190.577 MPH. HMS driver and four time champion Jimmie Johnson posted the seventh top qualifying speed at 190.359 MPH.
Jeff Gordon, who is Hendrick Motorsports other four-time champion, would not be outdone posting the 10th fastest speed of the day at 190.050 MPH.
With the HMS power beginning to take control of the season once again, the Earnhardt-Childress engine package went right to work during the 2010 Budweiser Shootout.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil RCR Chevrolet took his team to victory, while leading five times for a total of 21 laps.
The win was Harvick’s second consecutive Shootout victory, making him the fourth driver to earn back-to-back wins in the non-points event’s 32-year history.
Harvick joins Neil Bonnett (1983-1984), Ken Schrader (1989-1990), and Tony Stewart (2001-2002) as the event's other back-to-back winners.
Two other teams who competed in the Shootout, also finished in the top 10 while utilizing the Earnhardt-Childress engine package.
Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), and Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) finished third and 10th respectively with McMurray leading twice for two laps.
“All the hard work during the off season is paying off already,” said Richie Gilmore, chief operating officer of ECR Engines.
“It was obviously a great start for Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil team and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet also had a strong night. The Caterpillar team and the Target team were strong in practice and looked good during the Shootout,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore also added that, “Everything we had in the engines for the Shootout is the same things we have in the engines for the Duels and the Daytona 500. We’re really excited about what we brought to Daytona and we’re looking for more good things next week.”
Other teams in the Budweiser Shootout powered by the ECR Engines were Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton/No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet who finished 12th, and The Racer’s Group’s Bob by Labonte/No. 71 TRG Chevrolet who finished 18th.
The No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team’s victory was the seventh Budweiser Shootout title for RCR, the most of any team.
In addition to Harvick’s back-to-back titles, Dale Earnhardt won the event five times (1986, ’88, ’91, ’93, ’95).