The event formerly called the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona was given a new name earlier this month when it gained Sprint sponsorship and became the Sprint Unlimited. Now the race has a new set of rules to accompany the new moniker.
The new format places an emphasis on fan interactivity with the results of an online poll deciding some of the key competition aspects of the event. The Sprint Unlimited will also include an elimination segment for the first time in race history.
Fans will have the chance to vote on several format factors, including the number of laps in each segment, the type of pit stop a team will make after the first segment and how many cars will be eliminated after the second segment. Votes can be cast on NASCAR’s new official mobile app – NASCAR Mobile ’13 – or at NASCAR.com/SprintUnlimited.
The non-points exhibition race opens the NASCAR season and is 75 laps for 187.5 miles. A total of twenty-two drivers will be eligible to compete in the race, including 2012 pole position winners and previous winners of the race who had qualified for at least one race during the 2012 season. This mimics the more popular eligibility format that was used from 2002-2008.
Kyle Busch is the defending race winner.
Fan voting categories, include:
· Length of each of the three race segments:
o Choice A: 40 laps, 20 laps, 15 laps
o Choice B: 35 laps, 30 laps, 10 laps
o Choice C: 30 laps, 25 laps, 20 laps
v Race format voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 13.
· Team pit stop after the first segment:
o Choice A: No pit stop
o Choice B: Two (2) tire change
o Choice C: Four (4) tire change
v Pit stop voting concludes at the green flag of the first segment.
· How many cars will be eliminated after the second segment:
o Choice A: None (0)
o Choice B: Two (2) cars eliminated
o Choice C: Four (4) cars eliminated
o Choice D: Six (6) cars eliminated
v Elimination voting concludes at the green flag of the first segment.
Ultimately, these are just cosmetic changes to what used to be the Budweiser Shootout.
The fan voting aspect is a pretty cool way to involve fans and generate interest in the month leading up to the events while the categories shouldn’t really affect the finish of a restrictor plate race.
The inclusion of an elimination segment is actually a positive for the race and will encourage racing in the middle stages of the event. With teams not knowing how many cars will be eliminated prior to the end of the first segment, finishing the first stanza near the front will end any chance of contenders riding near the back of the field.
The current format will ensure that racing near the front will be both frantic and exciting.
The Sprint Shootout will take place on Feb. 16 and starts at 8 p.m. EST. The race will air live on Fox. Do you like the new format and interactive features of the Sprint Unlimited? Tell us in the comments section below.