2009 Budweiser Shootout Preview

Race: Budweiser Shootout
Date: Saturday February 7th, 2009
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Time: 8 pm ET
Channel: FOX

by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

If any of you out there are like me, you’ve certainly enjoyed what a great NFL season this has been. BUT, and that’s a BIG but, it’s time to get back to the bumpin’ and grindin’ on the asphalt. It’s been a LONG and lonely 2.5 months without the smell of racing fuel at my local tracks. Luckily for us, this Saturday night brings us the official start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. While it isn’t a points race, it’s definitely the beginning of what is going to be an incredible season.

Along with the roar of the engines this year comes a whole new set of rules for the shootout. The Budweiser Shootout has been in place for quite some time now, actually since 1979, and has essentially been a race between the superstars; however, with a new year comes a new format, as it has been for the last few seasons. Honestly, I’m sick of reporting about changing rules, so hopefully we can stick with this format a little longer than a couple hours worth of racing.

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Then again, this format isn’t what it’s cracked up to be in my opinion, so I guess we’ll see. Previously, the Shootout consisted of drivers who had won a pole in the previous season as well as drivers who were previous winners of the Shootout. This year, the race consists of the top six teams in owner points as well as a wild-card driver chosen from owner standings in each manufacturer including Ford, Dodge, Toyota, and Chevy. The reason that this is so significant is because some superstar drivers aren’t even so much as eligible to compete.

The format may work a little better next year once we sort out all of the team, manufacturer, and driver switches, but this year, it’s a bit of a disappointment because of so many awesome drivers not able to race.

Here’s what the lineup looks like for this year’s kickoff to the NASCAR season:

David Reutimann
Kurt Busch
David Ragan
Casey Mears
Robby Gordon
Kasey Kahne
Denny Hamlin
David Stremme
Tony Stewart
Greg Biffle
Matt Kenseth
Kyle Busch
Elliot Sadler
Joey Logano
Jeff Gordon
Jamie McMurray
Kevin Harvick
Jeff Burton
Reed Sorenson
A.J. Allmendinger
Jimmie Johnson
Michael Waltrip
Scott Speed
Brian Vickers
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Bobby Labonte
Paul Menard
Carl Edwards

With a big field this year, it’s going to be tough for the drivers to navigate and create strategy like they have in the past. Everything is going to be revamped in this Shootout. I really think that 28 cars is too many for this race, being that this race is supposed to represent the prestigious drivers, not just what the owners accomplished last year. Either way, I suppose we have to deal with it, so it is what it is.

The length of the race has been increased from 70 to 75 laps, more than likely to create some fuel issues and strategies for many of the drivers. There are going to be two separate segments to make up the 75 laps, the first segment being 25 laps and the second the remaining 50.

All in all, I’m not thrilled with the format. Unfortunately, complaining about it isn’t going to change it nowthat’s a valuable lesson I’ve learned as a woman. Regardless, we’re going to tune in, see how these guys run, and hope for the best. It’s going to a heck of a season, guys, so get ready to see some helmets flying and some tempers flaring. In the infamous words of Darrel Waltrip, boogity, boogity, boogity!! LET’S GO RACIN’ BOYS!