NASCAR throws Dale Jr. another bone
NASCAR is changing the eligibility rules for the Budweiser Shootout - again.
|NASCAR does everything they can to help make the #1 star shine, but still he fails.|
In a memo sent to race teams by NASCAR on Tuesday, candidates for the Shootout will include the 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup participants from the previous season, former Shootout, Daytona 500, and Coke Zero 400 winners, former NASCAR Cup champions and last year’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
After the Shootout moved away from rewarding the top qualifiers for the last 30 seasons and imposed amendments to the 2009 rules which included the top six in owner's points for each manufacturer and enabled representatives from all four car make to submit a “wild card“ entrant, the proposed rules for 2010 will be more inclusive and continue to qualify a minimum of 28 participants.
Drivers must have competed as recently as 2008 to be eligible in the past winner categories.
This decision comes after Dodge decreased its roster from seven teams to the three drivers currently under the Penske Racing banner.
As a result, notable drivers that are now eligible to race in the Shootout that likely would not have been participating include:
- Jamie McMurray (2007 Coke Zero 400 winner)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2001 Coke Zero 400 winner, 2004 Daytona 500 winner, 2003 and 2008 Budweiser Shootout winner)
- Kevin Harvick (2007 Daytona 500 winner, 2009 Budweiser Shootout winner)
- John Andretti (Coke Zero 400 winner)
- Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500 winner, Budweiser Shootout winner)
- Bill Elliott (former Cup champion, Daytona 500 winner, Coke Zero 400 winner, Budweiser Shootout winner)
- Bobby Labonte (Cup champion)
- Terry Labonte (Cup champion, Budweiser Shootout winner)
- Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500 winner, Coke Zero 400 winner)
- Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout winner)
- Michael Waltrip (2001, 2003 Daytona 500 winner, 2002 Coke Zero 400 winner).
As of today, team owner Eddie Wood says Elliott will not drive the No. 21 Ford in the Shootout.
Drivers who would have made it under the old rules but are ineligible in 2010 include: AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler (among the six best Fords), David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose (among the six best Toyotas) and Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski (among the six best Dodges). Fox Sports
[Editor's Note: The rule changes also nixes three open wheel and road racing guys from the Shootout, so of course NASCAR would make this change. Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.]