- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2009 17:52
- Published on Wednesday, 04 February 2009 17:52
- Hits: 1273
This year’s Bud Shootout has stirred up an inordinate amount of griping, grumbling and general waste of time and breath from a lot of race fans. It seems since it is no longer a race for last season’s pole winners, many race fans are all bound up with confusion as to what the race represents and what has NASCAR done with the traditional first Cup race of Speedweeks.
The why it has changed is easier than the what it has become. Once again in modern day NASCAR land, it is all about the money.
In NASCAR’s ongoing effort to wring money out of everything but bathroom breaks, and with the sport’s many “corporate partners” wanting to balance their individual advertising and promotional budgets in a disastrous economy, there has been an unprecedented number of changes in the various “corporate partners” and the promotions in which they participate.
Thus the Craftsman Truck series has become the Camping World Truck Series. The Busch series is now the Nationwide series; Sunoco is now the official fuel of NASCAR, and on and on.
For years Anheuser-Busch brewery has sponsored a special award for the pole winner at each Cup race. For years they used it to promote their Busch brand of beer. The car that was the fastest qualifier at each race throughout the season won the Busch Pole award, and each February they kicked off the Stock Car portion of Speedweeks with a race for the previous season’s pole winners. Fans excitedly waited each February for the Busch Clash.
A number of years ago Anheuser-Busch decided they could get a bigger bang for their buck by promoting their Budweiser brand instead of their Busch beer. The Busch Pole award became the Bud Pole award, and the annual Busch Clash race became the Bud Shootout. Race fans and beer fans, pretty much one and the same, didn’t much care and all was right with the world.
Enter money and budgets. Last year Anheuser-Busch made the decision to cut back on its advertising and discontinued sponsorship of the award for the pole winner of each race throughout the season. NASCAR set out to find a new “corporate partner” to replace the annual check they lost when Anheuser-Busch walked away from the pole award program. Enter Coors Brewery. Coors wrote NASCAR a big check and presto, chango, last season the car with the fastest qualifying time at each race became the Coors Pole award winner.
Fast forward to February 2009, Daytona International Speedway has a teaser race scheduled for the weekend before the Daytona 500 and a contract for Anheuser-Busch to sponsor the race. The fans are ready to see some racing. With the NFL season over, the TV networks need some product to entertain the sports fans of America who are shut in on cold February weekends. It’s time for some Racin’.
There’s just one problem.
What’s the hook, the gimmick, the reason for the annual pre-500 teaser race? Understandably Budweiser was not keen on sponsoring a race featuring the Coors Pole winners. What to do?
Where there’s money there’s a way.
Presenting the new, improved 2009 Budweiser Shootout. The lineup would consist of the top six teams from each manufacturer, based on the final 2008 car owner points. Eligibility is based on owners competing in this event with the same manufacturer as 2008. Fair enough. Then NASCAR took a look around and realized that with all the driver changes, mergers etc, the field for the Shootout lacked a bit of star power. No Tony Stewart. No Bobby Labonte. No Robby Gordon. Time for plan B.
On January 16, NASCAR announced the revised Format for the 2009 Bud Shootout. The new wrinkle called for each manufacturer to be able to enter a seventh car, or “Wild Card” entry.
This year’s race distance will be increased from 70 to 75 laps. The race will be run in two segments of 25 and 50 laps. Both green and yellow flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10 minute pit stop, at which time teams may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Changing springs, shocks absorbers or rear ends will not be permitted.
It’s a meaningless little race to whet our appetites for next weekend’s Daytona 500. It’s product for the TV networks and seat time for the drivers. Another way for the speedway to pry a few more bucks from the fans already on hand in Daytona, and pick up a sponsor check from Budweiser. And it’s cold outside, so settle back and enjoy.