Final chance at Homestead for 2006 Shootout spot

2006 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona: Homestead is the Final Chance to Earn Invitation Denny Hamlin Becomes 23rd Driver Eligible with Bud Pole at Phoenix With the last Bud Pole Award of the season on the line this Saturday at Homestead-Miami, it...

2006 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona: Homestead is the Final Chance to Earn Invitation

Denny Hamlin Becomes 23rd Driver Eligible with Bud Pole at Phoenix

With the last Bud Pole Award of the season on the line this Saturday at Homestead-Miami, it is the final opportunity for NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers to earn an entry to the season-opening 2006 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. The Anheuser-Busch-backed, by-invitation-only all-star event has kicked off the Cup season since 1979. All active past winners of the Shootout plus all Bud Pole Award winners from the 2005 season are invited to compete in the 70-lap Shootout, which will take place Saturday night, Feb. 11, 2006.

So far, a record number of 23 drivers have qualified to compete in the 2006 Budweiser Shootout (though one or more may opt not to compete due to retirement.) The previous record number of entries was 22 drivers who started the race in 2002. In 2004, eventual Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch won the Bud Pole at the season finale in Homestead to become the final entrant for the 2005 race, won by Jimmie Johnson.

Ten past race winners are eligible, with an additional 13 drivers earning their entry by winning at least one Bud Pole Award this season. The driver, not the team, qualifies for the event, so the 2006 running will offer NASCAR fans the first look at a variety of new team/driver/sponsor combinations.

For the third consecutive year, Ryan Newman has won the most Bud Pole Awards of any driver, with eight so far in 2005. Four drivers (Kyle Busch, Scott Riggs, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin) have qualified to start their first Budweiser Shootout in 2006.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Riggs , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin