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Shootout To Be A Seminar For The Upcoming 500

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 12 2011

Kevin Harvick will be attempting to win a third-straight Budweiser Shootout tonight in Daytona. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

It’s a non-point race, but that does not mean the Budweiser Shootout is a non-importance race. On the contrary. And especially this year.

This year, in addition to giving participating teams and drivers extra practice time and a dress-rehearsal opportunity for the season-opening Daytona 500, the Shootout will be held on a brand new racing surface. A racing surface which is causing some major fretting in North Carolina race shops and the Daytona International Speedway garages.

Tonight’s Shootout will also feature a larger-than-normal field of 24 cars. That, too, is important for teams and drivers who are trying to turn the race into a seminar for the most important real race of the year, which is now just a weekend away.

“It’s almost a whole field,” driver Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing said. “There are a lot of cars in it, and I guess that’s good because we’re in it. It’s going to be an exciting race. I really think that the race, with the new surface, is going to be crazy. This race offers an opportunity to learn something. The drivers and teams racing in the Bud Shootout will go into the Duel 150’s with a race under their belt that others won’t have, and I think that’s an advantage. Anytime you can be on the race track and other people can’t, gives you an edge. It’s going to be hard to imagine that half the cars that come out of it won’t need another car to replace that one.”

Many of the drivers in tonight’s Shootout will have logged significant miles on the new surface. But,

Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, who were first and second in the final point standings in 2010, practiced for the Shootout on Friday. Nose to tail, of course. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

those laps came in testing and practices and under more controlled circumstances than will be the case tonight.

“The testing that I was part off, the NASCAR test, we only had two-car packs,” defending and five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said. “We would pair up in twos so we could push draft each other around the track. If there was an odd number of cars that poor guy whoever he was wouldn’t be able to draft because we would pair up and leave. So for me the Shootout is my first experience with a big pack on the track so it will be a big learning curve for myself, a great experience, very helpful and needed on-track time to figure out what’s going on out there.”

The race also gives pit crews a pre-season workout. Their first under stress. None of the tests or practices featured live pit stops on a pit road which has been reworked.

Pit crews will be debuting the new fuel-loading system which has sent catch-can holders packing. There have been reports that the new fueling process is kind of tricky.

The Shootout is also good for fans as it will help them get acquainted with new paint schemes for 2011 and allow them to see some of the past champions who no longer have full-time rides.

And then there is the fact that there are fans at home who will get to watch their first race with that new high-def wide screen they got for Christmas.

Real racing is here.

Some facts and numbers about the Shootout:

How

The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will be held for the 33rd time. The format is unchanged from

Lack of points did not mean lack of joy for Kevin Harvick last year. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

2010, with a slight wrinkle in eligibility requirements. Criteria are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series within the last two seasons:

– The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2010 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

– NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year drivers from 2001-2010

Format

As has been the case since 2003, the Shootout will be run in two segments, the first 25 laps and the second a 50-lap sprint for the win. That’s 187.5 miles on the track’s high-banked, repaved, 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 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Other notes: 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.

Who

The 2011 field includes the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field: Reigning and five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton.

Other drivers eligible for the 2010 Budweiser Shootout, and the criteria that applies to each: John Andretti (Coke Zero 400 winner), Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500 and Budweiser Shootout winner), Kevin Conway (rookie of the year), Derrike Cope (Daytona 500 winner), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 and Budweiser Shootout winner), Bill Elliott (champion, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400

Bill Elliott is back for another Bud Shootout. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

and Budweiser Shootout winner), Kasey Kahne (rookie of the year), Bobby Labonte (champion), Terry Labonte (champion, Budweiser Shootout Winner), Joey Logano (rookie of the year), Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 winner), Mark Martin (Budweiser Shootout winner), Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 winner, rookie of the year), Juan Pablo Montoya (rookie of the year), Ryan Newman (Daytona 500 winner, rookie of the year), Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout winner), Regan Smith (rookie of the year) and Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 winner).

This and that

Is there a favorite? There are many but Kevin Harvick has won the past two Budweiser Shootouts and a third victory would be a race record. The event marks the first time the Richard Childress Racing driver has carried the Budweiser colors as a primary sponsor.

New Asphalt Equals Iconic Races … Only two Daytona 500s have been run on “fresh” pavement. NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Lee Petty won the inaugural 1959 race in a decision not finalized until days after the checkered flag fell. The 1979 race – the first carried live, flag-to-flag on national television – ended with Donnie and Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough wrestling in the Turn 3 grass following a last-lap accident that handed victory to NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.

Points Simplified; Catch Cans Eliminated; Ethanol Added To Fuels … The Daytona 500 will see points awarded on a 43-to-one point structure based on finishing position. Race winners receive three bonus points. There is an additional point awarded for laps led and most laps led. A race-winner can receive a maximum of 48 points.

Fueling – and the fuel – is different in 2011. Utilizing the closed loop fuel system that debuted in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, teams no longer will utilize a catch-can crew member. Speedweeks also will debut the Sunoco Green E15 fuel – a blend of gasoline and 15 percent American Ethanol.

Fast Facts

What: 33rd annual Budweiser Shootout At Daytona

Where: Daytona International Speedway

Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval

When: Saturday, Feb. 12

Time: 8:10 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX, 8 p.m. (ET)

Radio: MRN; SIRIUS/XM Satellite Radio, Channel 128

Distance: 75 laps/187.5 miles (25 laps in first segment; 50 laps in second segment)

2010 Winner: Kevin Harvick

History

The 33rd running of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 12, at Daytona International Speedway – running under the lights for the eighth consecutive year. The Budweiser Shootout traditionally kicks off NASCAR’s portion of Speedweeks and will be televised by FOX.

The non-points event has jump-started the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season since 1979. From 1979 to 1997, the event was known as the “Busch Clash,” and in 1998 became the “Bud Shootout.” The current name – “Budweiser Shootout at Daytona” – was adopted in 2001.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 12 2011
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