NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series officially returns to the track this week, with events leading to Saturday night's traditional Budweiser Shootout at Daytona – with a few twists.
NASCAR announced changes last year to the lineup for the event – the non-points precursor to the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 – with a format that emphasizes top performers from the previous season, plus drivers who have excelled at Daytona.
The Budweiser Shootout field now includes a collection of the sport's top drivers and top performers at Daytona. Below is the new criteria, with eligibility dependent on drivers having competed in the Cup Series during the past two seasons:
• The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2009 Chase
• Past Cup Series champions
• Past Budweiser Shootout champions
• Past Daytona points race winners
• The reigning rookie of the year
The Budweiser Shootout will be run in two segments, the first at 25 laps and the second a 50-lap sprint for the win. That's 187.5 miles on the track's high-banked, 2.5-mile layout. Following the first segment, a 10-minute "pit stop" gives crews the opportunity to make normal adjustments to their cars. That means tweaks they would do on a normal pit stop during a regular Cup Series event.
• All work must be done on pit road or in the garage.
• Teams may not change springs, shocks or rear-ends.
• All green- and yellow-flag laps in both segments will count.
Following the 10-minute "pit stop," the event's second segment remains a 50-lap sprint for the win.
Daytona 500 qualifying will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday, before the Budweiser Shootout.
Eligible drivers Entry criteria
|John Andretti||July race winner|
|Greg Biffle||2009 Chase|
|Geoff Bodine||Daytona 500, Shootout winner|
|Jeff Burton||July race winner|
|Kurt Busch||2009 Chase|
|Kyle Busch||July race winner|
|Derrike Cope||Daytona 500 winner|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Daytona 500, July race, Shootout winner|
|Carl Edwards||2009 Chase|
|Bill Elliott||Series champion, Daytona 500, July race, Shootout winner|
|Jeff Gordon||2009 Chase|
|Denny Hamlin||2009 Chase|
|Kevin Harvick||Daytona 500, Shootout winner|
|Jimmie Johnson||2009 Chase|
|Kasey Kahne||2009 Chase|
|Matt Kenseth||Series champion, Daytona 500 winner|
|Bobby Labonte||Series champion|
|Terry Labonte||Series champion, Shootout winner|
|Joey Logano||Reigning Raybestos rookie of the year|
|Sterling Marlin||Daytona 500, July race winner|
|Mark Martin||2009 Chase|
|Jamie McMurray||July race winner|
|Juan Montoya||2009 Chase|
|Ryan Newman||2009 Chase|
|Ken Schrader||Shootout winner|
|Tony Stewart||2009 Chase|
|Brian Vickers||2009 Chase|
|Michael Waltrip||Daytona 500, July race winner|