NASCAR schedule 2013: Season begins on Saturday

USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NASCAR season begins on Saturday, Feb. 16 with the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona.

The 2013 NASCAR season kicks off on Saturday, as drivers prepare for the Daytona 500 with the Sprint Unlimited in Daytona. The Sprint Unlimited, which was formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout, is the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series exhibition event at the Daytona International Speedway. The drivers in attendance are invitation only, and the event serves as the kickoff for the season.

The drivers invited will consist of pole winners from the 2012 Sprint Cup Series, and past winners of The Shootout who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season. There will be 28 cars in attendance instead of the usual 43, and the lineup will be decided by random instead of by time trial. Last year's defending champion is Kyle Busch.

The Shootout consists of two events. First there will be a 25-lap segment, which is then followed up by a 50-lap race. Similarly to the Sprint All-Star Race, which is held in Charlotte, there are no championship points awarded to the winner. Instead the winner will receive a large purse, which was decided on in hopes that it would encourage drivers to be more aggressive in this event.

The Budweiser Duels will be held on the following weekend, on Feb. 21, and those will be the final two events before the first official race, the Daytona 500, which begins on Feb. 24.

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