Shootout ready to shine under the lights at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2003) - The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona is a "non-points" race. But by no means should people infer that it doesn't count. The event sets the tone for the remainder of Speedweeks 2003, in many cases establishing...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2003) - The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona is a "non-points" race.

But by no means should people infer that it doesn't count.

The event sets the tone for the remainder of Speedweeks 2003, in many cases establishing early favorites for the 45th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season opener and the circuit's most prestigious and richest event.

And sometimes, it may offer a preview of who will win the series championship. That's what happened last year, when Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) won the Budweiser Shootout for the second consecutive year, then went on to capture the NASCAR Winston Cup title for the first time.

The Budweiser Shootout victory gave Stewart an immediate confidence boost, one that endured despite a blown engine and last-place finish a week later in the Daytona 500. In between those events, on the heels of the Budweiser Shootout, Stewart finished second in one of the Gatorade 125s.

"My confidence of how we ran here last year (before the 500) is probably what carried me through (the 500 disappointment)," Stewart said. "We had an awesome week."

This year, Stewart will go for a record third Budweiser Shootout in a race that has been altered in several ways.

It has been moved from its traditional Sunday-afternoon slot to a Saturday night (Feb. 8), and will be broadcast in network TV prime time (8 p.m.). As for the format, the distance remains 70 laps. But after 20 laps, there will be a 10-minute "break," followed by the remaining 50 laps.

The event is open to NASCAR Winston Cup drivers who won at least one Bud Pole position in 2002, plus former winners of the event.

Dash qualifying: On Friday, Johnny Chapman captured the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Goody's Dash Series 150. Rounding out the top five were Scott Weaver (162.760), Dusty Williams (162.666), Angie Wilson (162.464) and Randy Humphrey (162.428).

"We were pretty good in practice the whole time," said Chapman, driver of the No. 33 Pontiac. "I really wasn't expecting to run that well."

The NASCAR Goody's Dash Series 150 goes green on Sunday at 11 a.m. Following the race will be Bud Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500 at 1:15 p.m.

ARCA RE/MAX Series practice: The ARCA RE/MAX Series had their three final practices in preparation for Saturday's Advance Discount Auto Parts 200. Shelby Howard was fastest in the morning with a speed of 185.529 mph while Chase Montgomery posted the top speed in the afternoon with a lap of 184.173. ARCA had a final session in the late afternoon.

The Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 goes green on Saturday at 4 p.m. Following the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200, SHeDAISY will perform a pre-race concert for the Budweiser Shootout and will sing the national anthem for the All-Star race.

Budweiser Shootout practice: NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers competing in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout got their first track time at the Speedway. Ryan Newman, driving the No. 12 Alltel Dodge, fastest in the first session with a speed of 186.220 mph.

The field of 19 drivers will take the green flag for the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday at 8 p.m. It's the first time the Budweiser Shootout has been held at night.

Tickets for Speedweeks 2003 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Chase Montgomery , Shelby Howard , Angie Wilson , Johnny Chapman
Teams Williams