The Shootout that normally kicks off Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway will have a new sponsor this Saturday night as longtime sponsor Budweiser will no longer have its name attached to the event. Budweiser has decided to increase its sponsorship with the track by becoming title sponsor of Speedweeks.
The Shootout didn’t have to go outside the series to come up with a new sponsor, as Sprint will step in as title sponsor with the name of the event being changed to The Sprint Unlimited. Sprint will be entering its 10th season as the title sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series and has also sponsored the Sprint All-Star Race in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway for several years
The name change isn’t the only difference that fans will notice this Saturday night. The event is no stranger to change as over the years the actual format of the race has undergone several changes, as has the way in which the field is set. This year the format will be decided by fans who will vote on three choices. The three formats that race fans can cast their vote for will be 40/20/15, 35/30/10 or 30/25/20
Once fans have voted on the race’s format, they will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the race should have a pit stop and if they do decide to vote for a stop, they can actually vote on it being a two- or four-tire stop. Sprint will also allow the fans the right to choose if there should be any cars eliminated at the end of the second segment of the race. They can choose from 0, 2, 4 or 6 and if that isn’t enough for fans to vote on they also will have the opportunity to choose Miss Sprint Cup’s Fire Suit.
Setting the field for the event has undergone several changes during the year, but this Saturday it will go back to its early roots. The eligible field of drivers who can take the green flag on Saturday will be limited to drivers that won a pole during the 2012 season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season. Twenty-two drivers meet those requirements with 17 earning poles last season and five past champions.
The top-two drivers from last season, series champion Brad Keselowski and runner-up Clint Bowyer, failed to win a pole last season and will not be in the field on Saturday night. It was the first time in Sprint Cup Series history that both the champion and second-place driver failed to win a pole during the season. The 2004 race was the last time the event had been held without the series champion in the field as Matt Kenseth failed to sit on a pole in 2003.
PIT NOTES: Along with being the title sponsor of Daytona’s Speedweeks, Budweiser will still be a title sponsor of a race at Daytona — or in this case, two races. Budweiser will take over as title sponsor of the duel qualifying races which are held on the Thursday before the Daytona 500 that for years were sponsored by Gatorade. The top-15 finishers in both races gain automatic entry into the 500 and the 16th finisher gets in if one of the top-15 drivers already occupies one of the two front row spots that were awarded earlier in the week after qualifying.