Standing Room Only In The Budweiser Shootout
A record 23 drivers eligible for All-Star Race on Feb. 10
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Nov. 19, 2001) -- The 23rd annual Budweiser Shootout At Daytona is going to resemble a Gatorade 125-mile qualifier with a record 23 drivers eligible for the All-Star race on Feb. 10 at Daytona International Speedway.
With the field for this weekend's season finale at Loudon, N.H., finalized by points, the Budweiser Shootout field is now complete. If all 23 drivers choose to compete in the invitation-only event, it'll surpass the previous mark of 18 drivers set in last year's Budweiser Shootout.
"It's enough," said a wide-eyed Ricky Craven when asked about the size of the Budweiser Shootout field. "It's such an exciting race. You really don't want to miss any race, but that's not a bad race to watch. I've always enjoyed watching it. I think back to the Newburgh, Maine days and growing up with my dad and the anticipation of February and Speedweeks. It's going to be an exciting race with 23 cars. It'll be like a points race."
The Budweiser Shootout is a showdown of the previous year's pole winners and past Budweiser Shootout champions. The 2002 Budweiser Shootout field is a "Who's Who" of NASCAR Winston Cup Series and chances are good that guests attending the race at the Speedway will see their favorite drivers.
Veterans of the Budweiser Shootout who are eligible with a 2001 Bud Pole include Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Ricky Rudd, Sterling Marlin, Todd Bodine, Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven and Kenny Wallace.
Drivers who won their first Bud Pole and will be newcomers to the Budweiser Shootout include Jeff Green, Stacy Compton, Casey Atwood, Jason Leffler, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, who'll become the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate to compete in the Budweiser Shootout.
Past Budweiser Shootout champions include Rusty Wallace, Geoffrey Bodine, Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte and defending champion Tony Stewart.
The drivers eligible for the Budweiser Shootout have an advantage over their fellow Winston Cup drivers with an opportunity to get additional track time at Daytona during Speedweeks. Not only will drivers have more practice time, they'll also get a chance to learn about the new restrictor-plate rules in a 70-lap non-points race.
"It just gives us that many more laps than everybody else," said Green, driver of the No. 30 AOL Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. "It gives us an opportunity to try things before the Gatorade 125's come around. It gives me more drafting practice. The rules are going to be different than in year's past."
Busch, driver of the No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Ford for Roush Racing, will be entering his second year of Winston Cup competition next season and appreciates any additional track time, especially at a restrictor-plate track.
"It's wonderful to go to Florida on a week's earlier notice and for us to be invited there on a Bud Pole," Busch said. "It's going to give us more track time and give us more knowledge about restrictor-plate racing, which is an area that we feel we're good at, but we can even be better."
Tickets for Speedweeks 2002 events, including the Budweiser Shootout and the Daytona 500, are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.