Most fans will agree with the fact that the Budweiser Shootout is not the same under the current format. From 1979 to 2008, officials tinkered with the eligibility conditions and race distance, but the primary goal was the same…reward the previous season’s pole winners, as well as past winners of the race with an opportunity to race in a preseason exhibition. In 2009, NASCAR announced a radical change to the eligibility format by allowing the top six drivers for each manufacturer, as well as a Wild Card for each manufacturer. The Budweiser Shootout, a preseason All-Star race, consisted of a whopping 28 cars, several of which were not All-Star caliber drivers.
The format was far from a success, therefore, in 2010, NASCAR revealed another modification, which allowed eligibility for all past Shootout winners, all Daytona race winners, the previous season’s 12 championship contenders, the previous rookie of the year winner, as well as past champions. In 2011, all rookie of the year winners of the past 10 years are permitted to enter the event. Apparently, NASCAR really wants Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kasey Kahne in the show. Additionally, Kevin Conway and Regan Smith will be a part of the exhibition festivities.
Fans have grumbled about the Bud Shootout format ever since it was altered two years ago. It was another dreaded change that fans simply have not embraced. The Bud Shootout was a unique All-Star race, which kicked off every season for three decades. It placed more stock on winning the pole on qualifying day. Now, winning the pole is still an accomplishment, but the particular reward of a special exhibition race, which was an added bonus, is certainly missing. Even though most fans will tune in to the 2011 running of the Budweiser Shootout, the ever-changing format simply does not possess the same appeal as the original.
I understand that Coors Light, not Budweiser, is the official Beer of NASCAR, but the Bud Shootout must return to its original format. This would be a decision that would certainly be widely embraced by NASCAR fans.
Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, A.J. Allmendinger, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Elliott Sadler, Terry Labonte, and Kevin Harvick would be eligible on Saturday night based on the previous format.