Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The 2009 Shootout Format - Good or Bad?

NASCAR arrives at Daytona International Speedway this week for Saturday night’s annual preseason classic, the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. There will be a new format for the Budweiser Shootout. In past years, the field was composed of pole winners from the prior season plus former champions. The smaller, “invitation-only” field will now consists of twenty-eight (28) cars; the top six teams of each manufacturer from the previous year, and four "wild cards." The starting lineup will be determined by a random draw.

From the beginning in 1979 until last year, the drivers themselves qualified as eligible for the Budweiser Shootout, not the teams. If an eligible driver for the upcoming Shootout switched teams in the off-season, the driver, not the team, was eligible for the race and that driver competed in the race with his new team.

Unlike previous formats, this year, the entry receives the berth, not the driver. If a driver finishes in the top six of his manufacturer, then departs his team at seasons' end, the driver who replaces him races in the event. For example, Tony Stewart would have been eligible had he stayed with Joe Gibbs Racing's #20 team, but he instead left to start his own team, and his replacement, Joey Logano, will drive the #20 in his place. In addition, each of the four manufacturers receives one "wild card" berth for a car/driver not already qualified, to bring the grand total to 28 cars.

Many race fans are of the opinion that this “wild card” entry was crafted so that driver Tony Stewart, who will be driving a Chevrolet rather than a Toyota in 2009, by virtue of the wild card rule, will be allowed to compete in the Budweiser Shootout. Others blame the change of sponsors; from Budweiser to Coors.

Is this new “Wild Card” format fair? I guess it would depend on which of the drivers you ask. Tony Stewart has to be pleased. However, drivers who earned a pole position in 2008, like Ryan Newman (Phoenix), Joe Nemechek (Talladega), Patrick Carpentier (New Hampshire) and Paul Menard (Daytona) but will not be in the Shootout due to the format changes are probably not too happy.

Express your opinion. Cast your vote in the “2009 Shootout Changes, Good or Bad” poll posted in the sidebar to the right.


Anonymous said...

In all honesty, even though Joey logano is in the shootout, I don't like the current format.

Anonymous said...

I had a real problem with Logano being in the Shootout and Stewart setting out. Logano was only in because he inherited the spot and not because he earned it.

NASCAR Race Mom said...

Great comments - the Joey Logano's aspect is an important segment that I left out of the post.