Shootout format announced, sponsor renews

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2003) -- Officials from NHRA and Anheuser-Busch announced today a contract extension of Budweiser's "Official Beer" sponsorship of the NHRA as well as its sponsorship of the Budweiser Shootout, an all-star event that ...

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2003) -- Officials from NHRA and Anheuser-Busch announced today a contract extension of Budweiser's "Official Beer" sponsorship of the NHRA as well as its sponsorship of the Budweiser Shootout, an all-star event that showcases the best-performing Top Fuel teams.

Under the new agreement, the event that awards $100,000 to the winner will feature a progressive new format extending the drama of the qualifying process for the coveted eight positions until just days before the non-points bonus racing begins.

In the new qualifying procedure, all Top Fuel drivers will compete during qualifying at NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events to earn points in order to secure one of seven guaranteed positions in the Budweiser Shootout. The eighth spot, a wild card position, will be awarded to one of the eight drivers who qualified in positions 8-15 in the final qualifying points order. The No. 8 wild card position will be determined through a special lottery drawing, held during a press conference days before the start of the Budweiser Shootout.

Additionally, only the driver who qualifies for the No. 1 position is automatically locked into the eight-car elimination bracket. The No. 1 qualified driver will face the wild card selection (No. 8) in the first round of the Budweiser Shootout. The six drivers who qualify for positions 2-7 will then participate in a lottery-style drawing to determine their final starting positions on the eliminations bracket. The lottery drawing for positions 2-7 also will be held during the pre-event press conference.

In the wild card drawing for the No. 8 position, three alternates also will be selected at that time, to substitute for any qualified driver that may be unable to compete in the Budweiser Shootout.

"We worked closely with Budweiser to develop the new format for the Shootout, which will keep fans and drivers anticipating the lineup until a few days before the race begins," said Gary Darcy, vice president of marketing, NHRA. "None of the drivers will know who their competitors are until the press conference prior to the event, and that includes the No. 1 qualifier, who will race the driver selected for the wild card No. 8 position. We are excited about the new format and with the contract extension, we are looking forward to many more years of thrilling Budweiser Shootout competition."

The purse structure for the Budweiser Shootout will remain the same and the qualifying procedure will take place during events in the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The location of the Budweiser Shootout is yet to be determined.

Budweiser, the Official Beer of the NHRA, provides a total purse of $239,000 during the Budweiser Shootout series. Budweiser will award $92,000 in bonuses to quick qualifiers throughout the Shootout series, with the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel earning $4,000 at each NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event leading up to the Budweiser Shootout.

Budweiser provides an overall purse of $147,000 for the eight drivers who have earned a starting position in the Budweiser Shootout. In addition to the $100,000 winner's share, the Shootout runner-up will earn $15,000. The two semifinalists will earn $6,000 each and the four first-round finishers, $5,000 apiece.

"We are pleased to renew our contracts for the NHRA's 'Official Beer' sponsorship and for the Budweiser Shootout," said Tony Ponturo, vice president of global media and sports marketing, Anheuser-Busch. "The value and popularity of the Budweiser Shootout has continued to grow during the past two decades, and the new qualifying procedure gives more Top Fuel drivers the opportunity to race in the event which is great for the competitors and fans alike."

The Budweiser Shootout has been contested annually since 1985. Past winners include Joe Amato, Don Garlits, Kenny Bernstein, Shelly Anderson, Scott Kalitta, Gary Scelzi, Doug Kalitta and Larry Dixon.

Budweiser, the world's best-selling beer and the Official Beer of the NHRA, is brewed by the Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the world's best-selling beer.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has 80,000 members nationwide and 140 member tracks. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Don Garlits , Scott Kalitta , Shelly Anderson