Mixed Reactions to Bud Shootout Changes

How do drivers feel about the decision to change the rules governing next year's season-opening Budweiser Shootout exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway? Well, it depends whether you're in or out. Michael Waltrip, who finished 11th in the 2008 Shootout, would have needed to win a pole in the last 12 races to make the field in 2009 under the current rules. Instead, with the decision to include six teams from each of the four manufacturers, there's an excellent chance for two of Waltrip's team cars to make the field next February. Carl Edwards, who missed the 2007 edition because he failed to win a pole the previous year, thought he secured a spot with his run last week at Bristol. It turns out that he's one of five Roush Fenway Racing drivers who will represent Ford in the 2009 Shootout. Edwards is in favor of the new rule. On the other hand, 2008 pole-winners Paul Menard and Joe Nemechek find themselves on the outside looking in. For Nemechek's Furniture Row Racing team, the change was a huge blow. Nemechek said someone like Boris Said, who only runs a limited schedule, no longer gets additional benefit from winning a pole. NASCAR.com

Ryan Newman says it does seem odd that Daytona International Speedway executives don't want the defending Daytona 500 winner in their season-opening Bud Shootout next spring. Since Newman and new teammate Tony Stewart will be leaving their current teams at the end of this year and driving next year for a new team, they both will be ineligible for the Shootout. Ironic, since the Daytona 500 this year was Stewart-versus-Newman. Adding more irony: Joey Logano, who has yet even to run a Cup race, will be in the Shootout, in Stewart's Toyota. And even more irony: David Stremme, who will likely be taking Newman's ride with Roger Penske, would be in the Shootout instead of Newman. Stremme, whose only Cup run this year was at Talladega in April, where he finished 28th, has never won a Cup event. Newman has 13 career wins. "The new Shootout doesn't seem to be about drivers, but about manufacturers," Newman says. "It's a changed race all the way around. Winston Salem Journal

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he has no problem with the changes in the qualifying rules, but he has a big problem with a long final segment. "Fifty laps is forever on that track," Earnhardt said. "It would be a lot more exciting for the fans and a lot more fun for us if we only did 10 laps at the end." #11-Denny Hamlin, who won the race as a rookie in 2006, said he agrees with Earnhardt. "Only racing 10 laps at the end would be way better," Hamlin said. "The tires go away pretty fast at Daytona, but they still would have a lot of grip for just 10 or 15 laps. We could really go all out and the racing would be a lot closer." ESPN.com