Daytona Shootout: Start up front

Countdown to the 2008 Budweiser Shootout Starting Up Front Gets You In; But Does It Help You Win CHARLOTTE, N.C., (February 7, 2008) --The 23 contenders competing in Saturday's 30th Annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona all have one thing in ...

Countdown to the 2008 Budweiser Shootout

Starting Up Front Gets You In; But Does It Help You Win

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (February 7, 2008) --The 23 contenders competing in Saturday's 30th Annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona all have one thing in common -- they know how to start a race from up front.

Eighteen of the 23 starters won at least one Bud Pole Award in 2007 to qualify for the 2008 Shootout. The remaining five starters have claimed a pole during their career to originally qualify but are starting this year's race based on a past Shootout victory. For Penske Racing driver Ryan Newman, who has collected 42 poles in his eight seasons on the Sprint Cup circuit, the Shootout is as much about recognition as the prize money.

"We work really hard each year to win poles and have the #12 Alltel Dodge start up front," said Newman. "It's an honor being in the Budweiser Shootout each year because it recognizes the hard work that the entire team has done to put our car on the pole."

The standard practice of driving two timed laps to determine the starting order is not used in the Shootout. Instead, drivers take part in a random draw to determine their starting position. With just 70 laps from the drop of the green flag until the checkers fall, drivers wonder if rolling off first is the key to staying out front.

The results are mixed as there have been only three winners to start from the pole in 29 races. In fact, only 11 winners have started inside the top-five versus 14 winners starting from outside the top-10. Driver and team owner Michael Waltrip has watched his brother, Darrell, win from the pole but last year did not see the same result for teammate Dale Jarrett.

"This year there is significance with the Shootout for me," Waltrip said. "Last year we built our cars and in early February, a week before the Daytona 500, we looked at our stuff and thought we had the coolest stuff. We had chrome wheels. We had it all. Dale Jarrett draws the pole for the Shootout. I was pretty sure I was going to be the next championship car owner. Everything was perfect. In the Shootout, DJ's car did not perform well. It went from first to last. So now with everything that happened last year, I feel like we have a lot to prove by running in this year's Budweiser Shootout."

Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears, who is making his first appearance in the Shootout since 2005, knows it is where you finish, not where you start, that really matters.

"I'm excited to be a part of the Shootout again this year," Mears said. "This race is a lot of fun because it's the fastest guys from the year before all battling it out against each other. You have nothing to lose. There are no points on the line. You kind of throw strategy out of it and do anything you can do to win. That's all it's about."

Ryan Newman (Driver of #12 Dodge) -- "Roy McCauley (crew chief) and I are really looking forward to the Shootout because it is our first race together since our run in the Nationwide Series in 2005. Our speedway program has been really good the past few years, and we think that we're going to make a strong run in the Shootout."

Michael Waltrip (Driver of the #55 Toyota) -- "Our teams, at Michael Waltrip Racing, think we have proved a little bit with testing at Daytona, Las Vegas and California. However, the truth be told when we race in high definition on FOX with the NAPA and UPS Camrys in the race, and with my big mouth brother calling the race, there will be no hiding. Darrell loves me and he loves what I am doing. But he'll be the first to say, 'Ooh, it looks a whole lot like last year', if it doesn't look good. I am determined it is going to look a whole lot better this year than it did last year. The Shootout will be a good indication of whether or not we have turned a corner at Michael Waltrip Racing."

By the Numbers--

2 - The number of times that Dale Jarrett has started from the pole and finished 15th or worse in the Budweiser Shootout.

2 - The number of times that Dale Jarrett has started from the 15th position and won the Budweiser Shootout.

7 - The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet, two-time Shootout winner Jeff Gordon, will be the first to draw for his starting position in Saturday's race. Gordon is the recipient of the season long Bud Pole Award for winning the most poles, seven, last year.

19 - The lowest starting position for a winner of the Budweiser Shootout. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started from the 19th spot and crossed the finish line first in 2003.

23 - With his start in this year's Shootout, Bill Elliott will extend his record for most career starts in the event to 23.

-credit: budweiser

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Michael Waltrip , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing