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Budweiser Shootout kicks off 2010 season

Although it's not a points-paying event, several of NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will get their 2010 seasons underway on Saturday night with the running of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

“I can’t wait to get the season kicked off with the Shootout," Greg Biffle said. "The Shootout is a big deal if for no other reason than it is the first race of the season.  It’s not a points race, so we can go out there and just have fun with it. "

Formerly a race for the previous season's pole winners, the qualifying criteria has changed for the 2010 Shootout. This year's Budweiser Shootout field will be comprised of the 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers from last season, past Sprint Cup champions, former Budweiser Shootout (or Busch Clash, as it was formerly called) winners, Daytona points race winners, and the 2009 rookie of the year. Also, to be eligible to compete in the 2010 Budweiser Shootout, a driver must have competed in Sprint Cup Series competition within the previous two seasons.

“It’s cool to be a part of the Shootout this year," Matt Kenseth said. "In the past, when the Shootout field was based off of pole winners, I think I was only able to compete in it once since I’m not always the best qualifier, so I really like the way they have the selection criteria set up this year."

Following these criteria, the drivers who will make up the 2010 Budweiser Shootout field will include: John Andretti, Biffle, Geoff Bodine, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Derrike Cope, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Joey Logano, Sterling Marlin, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Juan Montoya, Ryan Newman, Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, and Michael Waltrip.

As usual, the race will be divided into two segments -- a 25-lap segment, followed by a 50-lap sprint -- for a total of 75 laps, or 187.5 miles. Following the first segment, there will be a 10-minute "intermission," during which crews will make typical adjustments -- no spring, shock, or rear-end changes -- to their cars.

“The name says it all – the Shootout is a battle for glory," Edwards said. I’m excited about going there and kicking off the season with a fun race like that."

Among the drivers competing in the year's Shootout are 11 who have had Budweiser Shootout success in the form of at least one when in the event, including last year's winner, Kevin Harvick. Other previous winners of the event who will be in the field once again this year are: Bodine, Earnhardt Jr., Elliott, Gordon, Hamlin, Johnsin, Terry Labonte, Martin, Schrader, and Stewart.

Television coverage for the 32nd annual Budweiser Shootout is slated for an 8 p.m. ET start on FOX. The selection show to determine the starting order for the Shootout can be seen on SPEED at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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