DAYTONA BEACH FL - FEBRUARY 12: Cars race during the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 12 2011 in Daytona Beach Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
If you raced full-time in the Sprint Cup Series last year, you're likely in the '12 Bud Shootout field.
Let's start with some bad news: I'm sorry to inform you that you are most likely not eligible for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
But under NASCAR's new rules, you might just want to check to make sure. After all, the once-exclusive event invites pretty much everyone these days.
A whopping 33 drivers are eligible to run in the 2012 Bud Shootout, which a press release is calling the "deepest field" in the event's history.
Well, sure. But is that a good thing?
For a long time, the Bud Shootout was reserved for pole winners from the previous season. Ever since Budweiser lost its status as the sponsor of NASCAR's pole award, however (that entitlement now belongs to Coors), the format has been tinkered with.
And it seems every year, the criteria gets broader.
The 2012 eligibility is simple: If you finished in the top 25 in points last season or have ever won a points race or Shootout at Daytona (we're looking at you, Derrike Cope), you are IN the field.
If not, you're sitting on the sidelines with the rest of us (apologies to Bobby Labonte and Regan Smith). The current eligibility rules exclude just three drivers with a ride who drove in all 36 races last season – the aforementioned Labonte, Smith and David Gilliland.
It's actually a bit surprising NASCAR didn't come up with some wild rule to get new Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick in the field, too. You know, like, "Any non-male drivers" or something.
Perhaps next year, the press release announcing the eligibility should just tell us who isn't in the field rather than who is.