Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout is Ready to Roll

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

A non-points event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway still carries prominence to the 24 drivers and teams competing in the 2010 edition. Paying out an impressive $200,000 prize to the winner, above all, the 75-lap event allows one NASCAR Sprint Cup team and driver to celebrate in victory lane for the first time in the 2010 season.

For the race's 31st running, NASCAR has abandoned the ill-conceived manufacturer-based selection process for a method promoting the achievements of Sprint Cup series drivers for 2010. Based on the 2009 Chase for the Cup, previous Daytona victories and Cup championships the field features some painfully underrepresented drivers like 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope, back-to back Budweiser Shootout victor Ken Schrader as well as 1997 Pepsi 400 (now Coke Zero 400) winner John Andretti. This format change was also a breath of fresh air for Dale Earnhardt Jr who would have been sidelined under the old selection system.

With two Thursday practices provided to the Budweiser Shootout runners, the first practice for the selected Sprint Cup drivers was highlighted by a 6-car crash involving Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer (subbing for Kevin Harvick who was dealing with a bout of the flu). #11 Dodge of Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin's #5 Chevy could not be repaired relegating them to run back up cars for Saturday night's race.

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Beyond the mayhem of the half dozen NASCAR race vehicles, the speed charts from both practices fails to reveal any driver sporting a dominant car. In the first practice, the #31 Chevrolet of Jeff Burton posted fastest time over Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch. The second practice showed the #9 Ford of Kasey Kahne in front with Ken Schrader and Matt Kenseth following. However, practice speeds at restrictor plate races are barely usage with the extensive use of drafting. But if one thing could be gathered from the time sheets, the spread of manufacturers and teams indicates the 2010 Budweiser Shootout could easily be a thriller for NASCAR fans.

Determined by a selection of beer bottles, the lucky bottle marked with a flag and the spelling "POLE" was drawn by Carl Edwards. Entering his 6th full season in NASCAR Sprint Cup driving the #99 Ford for Roush/Fenway Racing, Edwards has yet to score a restrictor plate race in any of NASCAR's three major touring series.

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Beyond being the first race of 2010 where NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers could be dusting off cobwebs at 190 miles per hour, the excitement of the first race of the new year will also be enhanced through a sampling of restrictor plate racing under NASCAR more relaxed doctrine of drafting at Daytona.

Airing on the cable station Speed, the green flag for the 2010 Budweiser Shootout is set to fall at 8:10PM on Saturday February 6th.

Car # Driver/Sponsor/Car Manufacturer

1) #99 Carl Edwards Scotts Turf Builder Ford
2) #29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
3) #83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
4) #39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
5) #16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
6) #5 Mark Martin Chevrolet (B)
7) #31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
8) #17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
9) #1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet
10) #34 John Andretti Window World Cares Ford
11) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
12) #71 Bobby Labonte TRG Motorsports Chevrolet
13) #14 Tony Stewart Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet
14) #82 Ken Schrader Red Bull Toyota
15) #51 Michael Waltrip NAPA Toyota
16) #48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
17) #18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
18) #75 Derrike Cope Asset Protect/ Dodge
19) #9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
20) #42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
21) #20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
22) #2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
23) #24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
24) #11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota (B)

(B) Denotes backup car and starting at rear

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