Column: Welcome Bud Shootout

Published 7:43 pm Friday, February 10, 2006

By Staff
As the seconds ticked down last Sunday night and the Pittsburgh Steelers became the third NFL team to win five Super Bowls, I knew the racing season was here.
We will go from one Super Bowl to another, the Super Bowl of racing in Daytona next Sunday, the 19th of February.
However, there is much racing to be done before the 500. Tonight, 21 drivers will take to the track for the Budweiser Shootout. This is a non-points event that features pole winners from the previous year and past winners of the race.
There are actually 23 drivers eligible for the race, but Rusty Wallace and Terry Labonte will not compete. Most of the top names will be competing in the race tonight, including a rookie.
Denny Hamlin made the most of his several starts last season and became eligible by winning the pole in Phoenix.
The race consists of an initial 20-lap segment followed by a 10-minute intermission and then a 50-lap sprint to the finish. All caution laps will count during both segments and the teams will be able to perform normal pit-stop duties during the intermission.
It should be exciting and should get you ready for the main event next week. I hate picking winners in non-points events, but I am a glutton for punishment.
My pick to win the Shootout and get his season started right is Brian Vickers. Look also for Bill Elliott. He is racing a Chevrolet for MB2 Racing in this race and in the 500. It should be fun to see him racing restrictor plates in a Chevy.
The first round of qualifying for the 500 is Sunday. Drivers will run two laps and set the position for the pole and inside pole.
These qualifying laps will also set the field for the Gatorade Duel races on Thursday. How a driver finishes in the Gatorade races will determine where he will start the 500 on the following Sunday.
Did you see where Wallace will be the lead analyst for ABC's coverage of the IRL this season?
Maybe he will bring some excitement to an otherwise stale racing series.
In 2007, Wallace will be the lead analyst for ABC/ESPN's coverage of the NASCAR series.
I, for one, am excited about ABC and ESPN coming back to air the races. I can't wait to see Dr. Jerry Punch back in the pits.
Have fun wetting your whistle Saturday night watching the Shootout on TNT. We should be able to get a good idea about who will be fast next Sunday.