What Is the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout?

car sponsored by Budweiser Shootout
Brian Bennett/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins each season with the Budweiser Shootout. This non-points race generates a lot of excitement as this is the first race of the year. Not all drivers qualify for this special event though. How does a driver get into the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout? Here is everything that a race fan needs to know about the Budweiser Shootout.

The Track

Daytona International Speedway is a large 2.5 mile tri-oval. The turns feature 31 degrees of banking in the turns and 18 degrees of banking in the front tri-oval. Daytona is one of the tracks on the schedule where the teams are forced to use the horsepower-limiting restrictor plates.

The Event

This short event runs a total of 187.5 miles in two segments. First, a 25-lap segment gets things started. Then there is a 10-minute intermission during which teams are allowed to do any work that would normally be done during a pit stop. The drivers then lineup for a final 50-lap dash to the finish.

Call the Speedway ticket office 1-800-PITSHOP or (386) 253-7223.

How to Qualify for the Budweiser Shootout

The qualifying format was changed again in 2010.The qualifiers are top performers from last season.

Qualifiers for the Budweiser Shootout will be any driver who was active within the last two seasons and also meets any of the following criteria:

  1. Qualified for last year's Chase for the Cup
  2. Is a Past Cup Series champion
  3. Is a former winner of the Budweiser Shootout
  4. Is a former winner of any points race at Daytona
  5. Won rookie of the year honors within the last 10 years

When Is the Budweiser Shootout?

The Budweiser Shootout is always held the weekend before the Daytona 500. This is the same weekend that qualifying for the Daytona 500 happens. The race is held in prime-time under the lights on Saturday night.

What to Expect

Since the Budweiser Shootout is not worth any championship points and doesn't pay much (as compared to the million-dollar-plus All-Star race), drivers typically use this as an extra practice session for the Daytona 500. They will feel out how well their cars work in the draft and see if they can move up in the pack. More important than anything is just not getting hurt.

However, towards the end of the event, the drivers' competitive juices get flowing and we often end up with a good finish.

Busch Clash and Beyond

This event was first held in 1979 when it was a simple 20-lap sprint known as the Busch Clash. Buddy Baker won that inaugural event.

The race has changed formats and names a few times over the years. In 1998, the event became known as the Bud Shootout. The race changed names again in 2001 when it changed to the current Budweiser Shootout name and the multi-segment format.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. leads the all-time win list with 6 wins in the event. Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart are next on the list with 3 Budweiser Shootout wins each.