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NASCAR: Format change for Shootout at Daytona

Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ó The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will be around at least three more years with a new format that places the emphasis on the four manufacturers in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series.
Anheuser-Busch official Tony Ponturo made the announcement of the contract extension and the format changes Tuesday. He was joined by Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig and NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter.
The 31st annual season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 7 will have a field of 24 cars representing the top six teams from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota. It will be based on the final 2008 car owner points.
“This could not be better timing,” Hunter said. “It’s no secret that the manufacturers need all the exposure they can get right now. This is a good strategic move in that direction.”
But two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart and reigning Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman won’t be in the Shootout lineup in February because of a change of teams.
Stewart is switching from Toyota to Chevrolet, while Newman is moving from Dodge to Chevrolet. That means neither will be there since their cars will not be among the top six in car owner points.
The Shootout, a non-points event, was originally known as the Busch Clash and first held in 1979. Over the years, it has been a showcase for the previous year’s pole winners and previous winners.
Under the new format announced Tuesday, the race distance will be increased from 70 laps to 75 (187 miles) on the 2.5-mile Daytona trioval. The race will consist of segments of 25 and 50 laps, with both green- and yellow-flag laps counting toward the total.
There will be a 10-minute intermission between segments. Teams can pit or go to the garage and may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.
Starting positions will be determined by a blind draw, held Feb. 5 at the speedway.

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