Kahne, Montoya, Logano, Smith added to Bud Shootout field
Four drivers who otherwise would not have been eligible to compete in the 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway can thank an expansion of the rules for their places in this year's field.
Former Raybestos rookie of the year winners Kasey Kahne (2004), Juan Pablo Montoya (2007), Regan Smith (2008) and Joey Logano (2009) all benefit from a rule change that opens the field to Cup rookies of the year from the past 10 seasons, rather than just the reigning rookie winner (Kevin Conway).
Already eligible for the Feb. 12 exhibition race are all 12 Chase drivers, past Cup series champions, former Budweiser Shootout winners and former winners of either the Daytona 500 or Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
The Shootout will mark the first official Cup competition at Daytona since a massive repaving project was completed in December.
"Race fans expect to see NASCAR's best drivers compete in the Budweiser Shootout to kick off the 2011 racing season, and this star-studded lineup will not disappoint when they take the green flag for the first time on the new asphalt," Daytona president Joie Chitwood said.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, echoed Chitwood's assessment.
"When you take a look at the field for this year's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, it's loaded with all-star caliber drivers," Pemberton said. "From former series champions and Chase drivers, to the past 10 rookie of the year performers, to drivers who have had success at Daytona, we believe the fans are in store for a terrific and highly competitive event on a brand-new racing surface."
The eligibility rules for the Shootout have undergone a major overhaul the past three seasons, changes spurred by Coors Light replacing Budweiser as the sponsor of the weekly pole award for Cup races. The race, which debuted as the Busch Clash in 1979, was originally designed for pole winners from the previous season.
It made little sense, however, to have the winners of the Coors Light Pole Award competing in a race sponsored by Budweiser--hence, the changes in the way the field is set for the race. The expansion of the rookie rule is the only departure from 2010.
The 75-lap race itself will feature two segments (25 and 50 laps) with a 10-minute break between them. Kevin Harvick has won the last two Shootouts.
Drivers eligible for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout include:
2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers
John Andretti (Coke Zero 400)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
Kevin Conway (Series rookie of the year)
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)
Kasey Kahne (Series rookie of the year)
Bobby Labonte (Series champion)
Terry Labonte (Series champion, Budweiser Shootout)
Joey Logano (Series rookie of the year)
Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Mark Martin (Budweiser Shootout)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Series rookie of the year)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Series rookie of the year)
Ryan Newman (Daytona 500, Series rookie of the year)
Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
Regan Smith (Series rookie of the year)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)