A record field of 28 Sprint Cup cars will start Saturday’s NASCAR Budweiser Shootout, with a new format for the nonpoints race that favors car manufacturers over pole winners.
The made-for-TV race that began 31 years ago is the unofficial opener for the Sprint Cup series at Daytona International Speedway. In the past, the race honored the previous year’s pole winners and former winners of the Shootout.
NASCAR changed the format after Coors replaced Budweiser as sponsor of the Cup pole award before last season. Budweiser wanted to continue sponsoring the Shootout, and the tie-in to pole winners no longer was a good fit.
The size of the field also fluctuated under the previous system. This year, each automaker in the Cup series — Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford and Dodge — received six spots based on last season’s final car owners standings and an additional wild-card team.
Kasey Kahne will compete in the Shootout, which begins at 4 p.m. PST, in a Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports. He would have made the field under the old system after winning two poles last year.
“The Shootout is always an exciting race to be a part of,” he said. “There’s no pressure. No points on the line. … You can take a few extra chances that you might not take in the Daytona 500.”
The race will be increased from 70 laps to 75 on the 21/2-mile oval and will be divided into segments of 25 and 50 laps.
For a complete list of Shootout teams, go to lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal.
• DRIFTING — A local drifting club will hold an event Feb. 22 in the parking lot near Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring. Professional Formula Drift drivers Tommy Suell, Patrick Mordaunt and Ernie Fixmore will conduct clinics for new drifters. For more information, visit VegasDrift.net.
• DESERT RACING — The Best in the Desert Series expects more than 250 entries for this weekend’s Parker 425 in Parker, Ariz. Racing begins at 6:15 a.m. Saturday. For more information, go to bitd.com or call (702) 457-5775.