So tonite - in a few minutes the green flag will drop on the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The format has changed from previous years. It used to be the pole winners from the previous year, and any previous year's shootout winners still racing. However since Budweiser no longer sponsors the pole, they changed the rules. It was the top 5 drivers ( by owners points) from each manufacturer. The owners points is an interesting catch. It meant Tony, who is now driving for himself, was out of the shootout for the first time in 9 years. It also meant that Joey Logano the 18 year old "phenom" A ROOKIE is in the shootout. And Rookie Scott Speed as well. Then all of the sudden ( I believe with pressure from Chevy who did a lot of lobbying to get Tony back in a Chevy) there was an amendment. Thbere was a "wildcard" position open. Either a past champion or the next highest in owner points. The only real "big name" that put in the race was Stewart. Hmmm.
Mind you Tony has won it 3 times previously. The weird thing is Ryan Newman ( who now drives for Tony in the 39 Army car, whose nickname is Rocketman because of all the poles he wins) is not in the race. And Matt Kennseth and Jeff Burton - both notorious qualifiers are in it. And Paul Mennard??
OK, granted Tony is not really a hot qualifier himself, but once he won the first Shootout, it really didn't matter because he was in. So this should be an interesting shootout, especially watching the ARCA race this afternoon, there are a bunch of drivers in the shootout who have NO restrictor plate experience at all. The race is always interesting because this race is only for the Pride and the Ego and the Bragging rights and the $$, since it doesn't come with any points. So all the drivers are just out to win, playing it safe for the points is not a factor. Most of the cars are not really in this years "stable" so if they get wrecked its no big deal. The starting lineup was determined by random picking of budweiser bottles with flags in them on Thursday night. So the front row is highly questionable, Tony is in 6th ( along side Denny Hamlin) the first row with any experienced drivers. Some really good drivers are in the back of the field - Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon are the last row.
Well enough of this - time to watch racing!! ( Ok started Thursday night) tomorrow is Daytona Pole qualifying, Thursday afternoon are the dual 125s that set the field for the 500. The truck race is Friday night. The Nationwide race is Saturday and the 500 - the start of the season is next Sunday. Woohoo!!! Happy Happy Happy!! Tony is looking good with his brand new team out of the box - he was fast in all the practices so far. YAY!!