Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NASCAR once again changes the Budweiser Shootout for 2010 and its lineup is unique.

As if last year’s Budweiser Shootout and no preseason testing was enough as well as all of the NASCAR news that has recently come out especially this close to Christmas, NASCAR fans and media found out today in yet another announcement that NASCAR is changing revising the 32nd annual Budweiser Shootout, at least the driver lineup is interesting.
According to the NASCAR press release, the new driver lineup will be made up based upon the following qualifications, and the driver must have completed within the last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons: The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, Past Budweiser Shootout champions, Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions and the reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

“We’re always looking at ways to make this event bigger and better for our fans and we believe the new format for the Budweiser Shootout puts together an exceptionally strong lineup of our top drivers,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.

“In our discussions with the track, we thought by placing an additional emphasis on the drivers who had performed well at Daytona over the years would create an even more compelling element for the fans to get excited about at the beginning of the season.” - (Quotes from NASCAR PR)

The race distance will continue to be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit and change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.
Finally it’s not all about the manufacturers, but wait until you see the list of eligible drivers this one will leave you saying why? At the same time, I remember last January the subject was why isn’t Tony Stewart in the field before changing, for this season, I was wondering how NASCAR was going to get my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the Budweiser Shootout considering he hadn’t won a race since 2008 Michigan, sorry I know it hurts to read/here that.

Well threat no more because he is a past winner of the Daytona 500 and the Budweiser Shootout and he’s in, but so is other drivers that I never would of thought of.

Now of course you have to 2009 chase driver Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers.

But here’s where the list gets interesting, the past winners at Daytona and the past Cup Series championship include John Andretti (Coke Zero 400), Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500), Jeff Burton (Coke Zero 400), Kyle Busch (Coke Zero 400), Derrike Cope (Daytona 500), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout), Kevin Harvick (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout), Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400), Jamie McMurray (Coke Zero 400), Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout) and Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400) as well as the past series champions, Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, and Terry Labonte. And finally the Reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year Joey Logano is in the 2010 Budweiser Shootout.

What a difference from not only last season, but the All-Star race, I mean the NASCAR All-Star race has tighter restrictions, for example NASCAR didn’t even let Michael Waltrip in the field because his All-Star win was back in 1996 and there was a 10 year. And yet Geoff Bodine, Derrike Cope, Sterling Marlin, Terry Labonte, John Andretti and Ken Schrader all are eligible to run in the Budweiser Shootout? I think NASCAR has gone overboard here, I think for a driver to qualify/eligible, the driver must have at least attempted to make all of the (72) races in the last two seasons, but what’s new.

However even with the changes I have to say that I am excited to watch the Budweiser Shootout in February in Daytona because it’s the unofficial start of the 2010 NASCAR season and that’s what matters. Yeah you can tell that I already miss my Saturday and Sunday races on television. If I don’t talk to you before Christmas, Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays everybody.