Daytona Int’l Speedway Shootout news

The first official act of the 2009 NASCAR season will take place on Thursday night, Feb. 5 with the Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on the SPEED Stage located outside Turn 4 of historic Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers that are eligible for the 31st annual Budweiser Shootout will draw their starting position for the 75-lap All-Star classic set for Saturday, Feb. 7 at "The World Center of Racing." The draw party, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is free and open to the public and parking is available at Lot 3 (Speedplex Offices).

The Budweiser Shootout will feature a star-studded lineup in a new format. The field will consist of the top six teams from each manufacturer based on the final 2008 car owner's points. Eligibility is based on owners competing in this event with the same manufacturer as 2008. In addition, each manufacturer will be able to enter a seventh car or "wild card" entry.

The criteria for the wild card entry are:

– Any owner outside the top six in year end 2008 owner's points whose driver is a past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion that attempted to qualify for all 2008 events (only one position will be filled per manufacturer and will be based on the most recent past champion per manufacturer).

– If an owner/manufacturer does not have a past champion driver, the next highest eligible owner outside the top six in year end 2008 owners' points from each manufacturer will be eligible to compete in the event.

Among the drivers that will be in the 28-car field include two-time and reigning Budweiser Shootout champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, three-time Budweiser Shootout winner Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and more.

The race distance will be increased from 70 laps to 75 (187.5 miles) on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The race will have two segments, of 25 and 50 laps. Both green- and yellow-flag laps will count.

Between segments, there will be a 10-minute pit stop at which time teams will pit and may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments.

Popular country music star Dierks Bentley, whose latest album "Feel That Fire" will be released on Feb. 3, will perform before thousands of race fans before and after the Budweiser Shootout.

Bentley, who previously performed a pre-race and post-race concert for the 2007 Budweiser Shootout, will sing three of his hit songs

from the Pre-Race Stage before the start of the Budweiser Shootout. The performance of his latest hit, "Feel That Fire." will be carried live on FOX Sports as part of the festivities. After the checkered flag drops, Bentley will perform a 60-minute post-race concert from the Sprint FANZONE Entertainment Stage.

Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access holders will be able to view the pre-race concert from the tri-oval grass while all ticket holders will have access to the post-race concert, which will start in the Sprint FANZONE approximately 30-minutes after the end of the race.

For ticket information on the Budweiser Shootout as well as other DIRECTV Speedweeks events, visit or call 1-800-PITSHOP. DIS PR

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