Race Day: The Bud Shootout
To most of the racing world, the Budweiser Shootout is an all-star race. It’s a largely ceremonial event that kicks off the Sprint Cup season and pits the top drivers in the series against each other for a for-fun-only race that is more about pride than money.
But racing being a big business and NASCAR being the biggest of racing businesses, the competitors have a bit of a different viewpoint. They view it through a more pragmatic prism. For them, it offers a chance to get the drop on the competition on race day.
That is, they view it as a test session.
Here is what several competitors had to say about tonight’s Shootout:
Driver Ryan Newman – “Every minute you have to be on the race track is important from a testing and teamwork standpoint. It’s important for us especially the ones that are fortunate enough to be in the Bud Shootout to get a head start before the Gatorade 150s and before the 500 itself.”
Driver Mark Martin – “I had to sit it out last year. It was very miserable for me. With the limited track time you get, that’s a critical race to be in.”
Crew chief Greg Erwin (Greg Biffle) – “It’s obviously very advantageous to be in the Shootout to get the extra track time for the Daytona 500. If you can go down there and run well in the Shootout, that can be a big morale booster for next week. It just really gives everyone on the team including the driver a chance to kind of work the bugs out before we get into a points race. Our pit crew is exactly the same as last year so they don’t have to use this like some teams do as their first time to pit under real race conditions but it has been a while since Homestead so it can’t hurt.”
But leave it to Martin to add his feelings about the Shootout in terms of being good for fans.
Martin – “I think it is awesome. I don’t know for sure if it has the same luster that it had back when it was ‑‑ gosh, the year I was in it in 1982, I think there was only 14 cars, you know. It was very, very elite. It has lost some of its elite status. But it’s a darn good way to start off, you know, our season. I think having the Daytona 500 first is also a very good way.
“Don’t forget, this is NASCAR. If there was a better way of doing it, they probably would already be doing it. Yeah, I love the Shootout. I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to – part of the excitement was, too, I’m nearly 30 years I’ve been coming and doing this. The first year I came, I got to race with Yarborough, Richard Petty, all those guys, so it would have been an incredible thrill. Now I’m a little bit more used to it, so it doesn’t have quite the same glitter that it might have in 1982. But it really bothered me bad not to be in it last year and lose that track time.”
The Budweiser Shootout, the annual preseason night-time (8:10 p.m.), has a new format. Here’s the way the field will be compiled Saturday’s (Feb. 6) event:
* The 12 drivers who qualified for the previous year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
* Past NASCAR Sprint Cup champions
* Past Budweiser Shootout champions
* Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions
* The reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year
The race distance will continue to be 75 laps (187.5 miles) on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The race will have two segments, of 25 and 50 laps. Both green- and yellow-flag laps will count.
Between segments, there will be a 10-minute pit stop at which time teams will pit and may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments.
Starting positions will be determined by a draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Thursday night, Feb. 4, on the SPEED stage in the Midway at DIS, outside Turn 4.
2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers:
* Jimmie Johnson
* Mark Martin
* Jeff Gordon
* Kurt Busch
* Denny Hamlin
* Tony Stewart
* Greg Biffle
* Juan Pablo Montoya
* Kasey Kahne
* Carl Edwards
* Brian Vickers
Others – criteria filled listed in parentheses:
* John Andretti (Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola)
* Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
* Jeff Burton (Coke Zero 400)
* Kyle Busch (Coke Zero 400)
* Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
* Bill Elliott (Series champion, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
* Kevin Harvick (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
* Matt Kenseth (Series champion, Daytona 500)
* Bobby Labonte (Series champion)
* Terry Labonte (Series champion, Budweiser Shootout)
* Joey Logano (Reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year)
* Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
* Jamie McMurray (Coke Zero 400)
* Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
* Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
The number of participants has ranged from a low of seven in 1981 to a high of 28 in 2009.
The drivers with the most Budweiser Shootout appearances:
* Bill Elliott (23)
* Mark Martin (21)
* Rusty Wallace (19)
* Ken Schrader (18)
* Geoffrey Bodine (16)
* Ricky Rudd (16)
* Jeff Gordon (16)
* Mark Martin had appeared in the most consecutive Budweiser Shootout races, competing in 20 consecutive events from 1989-2008. The active leader in consecutive appearances is Jeff Gordon, with 16. This year marks his 17th.
There have been seven multiple winners in the Budweiser Shootout:
* Tony Stewart has won three of the last nine (2001, 2002 and 2007).
* Dale Earnhardt won six events, most all-time.
* Dale Jarrett won in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Other multiple winners: Neil Bonnett (1983 and 1984), Ken Schrader, (1989 and 1990), Jeff Gordon (1994 and 1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003 and 2008).
Bonnett, Schrader and Stewart are the only drivers to win back-to-back races.
Buddy Baker (1979), Dale Earnhardt (1980), Jeff Gordon (1994), Dale Jarrett (1996) and Denny Hamlin (2006) all won the first Budweiser Shootout in which they competed.
Only five times in the 31-year history of the race has the winner gone on to win the Daytona 500:
* Bobby Allison (1982)
* Bill Elliott (1987)
* Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000)
Jeff Gordon (1997)
There have been three winners from the pole: Darrell Waltrip (1981), Bill Elliott (1987) and Ken Schrader (1989).
.08 –Margin of victory in seconds by Dale Earnhardt over Sterling Marlin in 1995, the closest margin in Budweiser Shootout history
1 – Laps led by Rusty Wallace (1998), Neil Bonnett (1983-84), Dale Earnhardt (1980), Dale Jarrett (2000 and 2004) and Kevin Harvick (2009) in the Budweiser Shootouts they won
2.75 – Average finish by Dale Earnhardt, best by any driver with multiple starts
5 – Drivers who have won the event in their first appearance (Buddy Baker, 1979; Dale Earnhardt, 1980; Jeff Gordon, 1994; Dale Jarrett, 1996; Denny Hamlin, 2006)
14 – Number of different leaders in last season’s event, most since race began in 1979
19 –Starting position of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2003, the lowest starting position of a Budweiser Shootout race-winner
23 – Number of lead changes in last season’s event, highest number since race began in 1979
27 – Kevin Harvick’s starting position last season, the lowest by a race winner in the event’s history
28 – Number of participants in 2009, the largest field in the event’s history
44 – Laps led by Greg Biffle in 2005, the most by a driver who did not win the event
47 – Laps led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2008, the most in a single Budweiser Shootout
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.com Comments