Countdown to the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona; Manufacturers Battle for Supremacy in 2009 Shootout CHARLOTTE, N.C., (February 4, 2009) -- After major changes swept across the NASCAR landscape in 2008, the 2009 season appears poised to ...
Countdown to the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona; Manufacturers Battle for Supremacy in 2009 Shootout
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (February 4, 2009) -- After major changes swept across the NASCAR landscape in 2008, the 2009 season appears poised to bring with it even more changes. The first evidence of change appears as engines roar to life for the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The 2009 edition of the Budweiser Shootout -- the 31st running of the unique race -- places emphasis on manufacturers as it pits the sport's four manufacturers in a head-to-head-to-head-to-head battle.
Speedweeks 2009 at Daytona will kick off with the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, February 7. The 28-car field will feature the top seven race teams from each of the manufacturer camps, including 11 drivers from last season's Chase for the Sprint Cup. The star-studded event will be a 75-lap dash around the 2.5-mile superspeedway for a total of 187.5 miles.
Chevrolet has been a dominating factor in the Shootout's long history to say the least, winning 18 of the 30 previous races. Chevy's driver line up this year, with a combined 47 starts and eight Budweiser Shootout wins among them, will be led by Tony Stewart. Stewart is returning to drive a Chevy for the first time after a one-year stint behind the wheel of a Toyota. Stewart has more shootout wins (three) and has earned more money in the shootout ($969,699) than any other driver in history.
Ford is the only other manufacturer with a team of drivers participating in this year's event without a Budweiser Shootout win. Ford's previous seven wins came courtesy of legendary drivers such as Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace. Even though this year's Ford contingent doesn't include a driver with a shootout win under his belt, the group does have the second-most combined starts with 19 and includes two previous Sprint Cup Series champions in Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte. Labonte leads the way in experience with nine career Budweiser Shootout starts.
To me, the top seven guys from all the manufacturers are probably going to be the top 28 cars, or close to it, so I think it's going to make for an exciting race for the fans," said Brian Wolfe, Ford Racing Director, North American Motorsports. "I think placing emphasis on the manufacturers is going to just put all the best drivers in the race and it's going to make for a lot better event. I'm excited about it."
Dodge is represented by a relatively inexperienced group in this year's Shootout. Two drivers, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne, combine for nine of the 13 starts for the Dodge camp. Busch's third-place finish in 2007 is the highest finishing position for any Dodge driver. His average starting position of sixth is also tops among all drivers in this year's field, regardless of manufacturer.
Toyota is the most inexperienced auto maker, with drivers combining for a total of 11 starts in the Budweiser Shootout. Three of the seven drivers have never competed in the annual kickoff classic. But the lack of experience hasn't diminished anyone's expectations for the young group. Denny Hamlin leads the way with a victory in the 2006 shootout (in a Chevrolet). He brings with him last year's early championship favorite, Kyle Busch, along with this year's most anticipated rookie -- Joey Logano.
"This year, having four manufacturers involved in the Budweiser Shootout is an exciting twist on the format of the race, as well as a great way to start the 2009 NASCAR season," said Lee White, president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development). "With the top-seven cars from each manufacturer competing in the event, it's sure to be a thrilling kick-off to a competitive week of racing at Daytona -- and the Shootout could be a sneak preview of what will happen in the Daytona 500. This race is part of the history of Speedweeks at Daytona, and now the focus will be on the four NASCAR manufacturers."
The battle between NASCAR's four car manufacturers will come to a head in the first race of 2009. The non-points Budweiser Shootout will be broadcast live on the FOX television network on Saturday, February 7th at 8:00pm EST. The race can also be heard simultaneously on the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
"(Switching the format) is an interesting concept. I think it's neat to have something for the manufacturers. I think having seven from each manufacturer will make it fair, and I think you'll probably see a little bit of team play among the different manufacturers when it all comes down to the end."
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 19 Best Buy/Stanley Tools Dodge
"The new format for the Budweiser Shootout highlights the manufacturers and should make it fun for the fans. It gives the race a little different look and flavor than it had in years past, but I think this is a change fans should support. I'm confident that fans will like the action and excitement that the new format brings to the table and the drivers that they see competing. From a driver standpoint, it allows the top seven drivers from each manufacturer to go door to door and compete for a win at Daytona. That is a pretty cool deal. Any driver, I don't care who you are or what your name is, would like to add a win at Daytona to their resume."
By the Numbers...
Number of wins by manufacturer (over entire 30-race history of Bud Shootout)
*Oldsmobile (2), Buick (2) and Pontiac (1) account for the remainder of Bud Shootout wins
Number of combined starts by manufacturer (with 2009 driver roster)
Chevrolet 47 (Jeff Gordon -- 15)
Dodge 13 (Kurt Busch -- 5)
Ford 19 (Bobby Labonte -- 9)
Toyota 11 (Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip -- 3)
Total Bud Shootout earnings by manufacturer (with 2009 driver roster)
Chevrolet $3,386,781 (Tony Stewart - $969,699)
Dodge $551,698 (Kurt Busch - $217,499)
Ford $689,416 (Bobby Labonte - $270,122)
Toyota $601,456 (Denny Hamlin - $296,380)