The Frontstretch: New Bud Shootout? More Like Shooting Yourself In the Foot by Amy Henderson -- Friday August 29, 2008

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New Bud Shootout? More Like Shooting Yourself In the Foot

Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday August 29, 2008


Note to self: never, ever wonder if it could get worse.

When I wrote earlier this year that the Budweiser Shootout had outlived its purpose, it was because the segment lengths made it boring — and with Budweiser giving way to Coors Light as the pole sponsor, it seemed as good a time as any to retire the race altogether. It was still popular enough even though it was getting stale… so why not go out in style? Before things got worse?

Too late.

The new race format for 2009 was announced last week, and frankly, um… how can I put this? It sucks. Since they could no longer use pole winners sponsored by a rival brewery, Budweiser and NASCAR had the chance to come up with something exciting to replace that – but instead, they came up with a format that could end up making watching cement set sound like more fun the Saturday night before the Daytona 500.

First off, driver selection is purely based on the previous year’s owner points and the manufacturer – the top six in owner points for each make get in. (Sure, let’s find another way to reward teams for something they did months ago). That means a couple of things. First, it means that if a driver works his butt off to earn points all the previous year but changes to a team not in the Top 6 in their make, he can sit on his butt while someone else races. If the field for next year’s Shootout were set today, Casey Mears would be in with the No. 07, despite not having even sat in the car yet. Clint Bowyer, on the other hand, would likely get the privilege of watching the race from on top of the No. 33 hauler. Ditto for Tony Stewart, who can watch Joey Logano pilot his old ride while he’s sitting on the sidelines.

With the new format for the Bud Shootout, Travis Kvapil makes the show as the only Ford not part of the Roush Fenway stable.

Not only is the format grossly unfair to drivers who should earn their way in, it also allows for some very dubious entries, as the top six from each manufacturer really isn’t the star-studded group Bud and NASCAR would like you to believe. The pickings are kind of slim for some of the makes; once you get beyond Chevrolet — who currently can say that all six of their entries are in the Chase — it’s not so rosy. Dodge would be trotting out cars that currently sit 21st, 22nd and 23rd in owner points, while Ford would be sending out the No. 28 of Travis Kvapil — currently 24th in owner points with three Top 10 finishes this year. Their entries represent just two owners, with five cars all coming out of the Roush-Fenway stable. Toyota is even worse – their lineup boasts Michael Waltrip, driving his own No. 55, which is 32nd in owner points and has just one Top 10 finish this year.

And while that “best six” format is fair to the manufacturers, it’s not fair to the teams who are simply better — or to the fans who want a good race. I’m all for leveling the playing field; but this is ridiculous.

Second of all, having two segments that are both long – 62.5 miles and 125 miles – isn’t doing much to add to the excitement, especially given that the CoT strategy on restrictor plate tracks like Daytona is basically to wait in line and go for it at the end. I can’t quite bring myself to believe that is what fans want to see.

The powers that be had the chance to turn the Bud Shootout around, make it worth the hype. They could have really made it a race worth watching. Imagine this for the Shootout: invite all the teams, regardless of their qualifying speed, and run the race like a Saturday night special at the local short track. Run heat races. If NASCAR has to suddenly be fair about something (and it would certainly be a first), run four five-lap heats, one for each manufacturer. Take the top five from each of those, then run a ten-lap hooligan race for all the others. Forget who makes the cars in that one; just take the top three finishers call it good at 23 in the feature. Then run the main event in three 20-lap segments or two 25-lappers and a ten-lap final segment for all the marbles, eliminating the last five cars in each of the first two segments. Now, that would be a race worth watching.

Instead, we get a tired format dragged out and made less exciting by the inclusion of some teams who are clearly only there because the format says they have to be invited. We get segments that are too long, and allow for far too much racing in line and playing it safe. We get everything that is wrong with the race — and maybe even with NASCAR. That’s surprising considering it’s an exhibition event – it should be the best the sport has to offer.

And now it’s not.

Contact Amy Henderson

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08/29/2008 06:27 AM

As much as I’m a fan of any driver who drives for Jack Roush, being Canadian, I was so looking forward to watching fellow Canadian Patrick Carpentier competing in the 2009 Shoot-out. Now the rules have been changed and I won’t get to see that happen. Thank’s a lot, NA$CAR! Oh well, at least I’ll get to watch Matt, Carl, Greg, David, and Jamie, as well as Travis Kvapil!

08/29/2008 06:33 AM

I suppose someone had to throw the manufacturers a bone. With the COT, the only connection with any manufacturer is the decals pasted on the cars. If Nascar can pretend that drivers more than 500 points behind the leader are worthy of being the ‘top 12’, why not pretend that taking random cars from all the ‘manufacturers’ will make an exciting season opening ‘shootout’?

08/29/2008 07:14 AM

And people continue to rag on me because of my views toward NA$CRAP!

Well people, just read Amy’s very nice summation of the latest NA$CRAP “thinking”!

And your buying this “crap”??

Bill B
08/29/2008 07:15 AM

What a waste. A wish I could say I would boycott watching it but it’s the first “race” of the season.

Mike In NH
08/29/2008 07:17 AM

Ken – hate to burst your bubble but Carpentier (whom I really like) may not have a ride next year to show up in, anyway, but lets both hope he does.

Agree with Amy, this new format is ridiculous. There are any number of things they could do to put on a more entertaining show – though the heat races idea is too much like the qualifying format they already use at Daytona.

How about putting all the racers in Karts (or Sprint cars) and have them run the Daytona road course? It’d be like Saturday night at the local go-kart track… :)

Ken in Va.
08/29/2008 09:33 AM

Since the COT, I don’t consider what decals are on the IROC car. Who cares?

If it was up to me, I would have let the 43 top drivers in points from the previous year start. I would have 5 20 lap segments. At the end of each segment, I would eliminate the last 10 cars from the field. The interesting racing would be back in the field until the last segment where it would be for all the marbles.

It's Me!
08/29/2008 09:49 AM

You’re right on the money on this one, Amy!

The new Bud Shootout is ridiculous for a numbr of reasons:

1) The “qualifications” to get in are completely unfair and absolutely insane. Chevy drivers get a raw deal here, strictly based on the fact that they have quality drivers. There are at least 11 drivers in the Chevy stable that could make the chase on any given year, however only SIX of them will have the opportunity to make the Shootout. The other manufacturers have less talent (for lack of a better word) and thus teams situated 30 or worse have the potential of racing the first race of the season. It’s possible that drivers with multiple championships, as well as the sports most popular driver, could sit out in the same year, while guys barely in the top 35 wheel their cars in the Shootout! Won’t that help the ratings?!

2) 24 is TOO MANY cars. The shootout works best when it is an “elite” few in the race.

3) 75 laps is TOO LONG! It’s hardly a “Shootout” if they get this many laps to “ride around”. Nothing will happen for the first 65 laps. A shorter race would be much more exciting (we all know how boring the first 2 segments of the All-Star race are).

4) There is no longer any REAL incentive to win this Shootout. I’m sure they will be money involved, but for some of the bigger named (higher paid) drivers, why risk injury at a restrictor plate race (high possibility of BIG wrecks) for a few dollars. If winning don’t guarantee a return trip then is it worth risking all? I see these guys just using the Shootout as an addition 1.5 hours of practice time.

5) Poles are now POINTLESS! Sure there’s pit selection, but other than that, WHO CARES. I understand Bud didn’t want to “reward” Coors pole drivers, but come on!

This new Bud Shootout could be the worst idea NASCAR has ever had, and considering the COT, that’s saying something!

08/29/2008 10:36 AM

One more example of sponsors running NASCAR . I imagine Bud showed up at the NASCAR offices and said” here is how we’re changing the Shootout “ . Since not one person in the NASCAR office has any idea how to respond to sponsors who decide that stock car racings’ only function is an infomercial for their products , the new Shootout rules were adopted . NASCAR has to hire someone with a backbone and a real knowledge of racing to step in and take over .

08/29/2008 11:30 AM

WOW I really like Ken’s idea of letting the top 43 in points start and eliminate 10 cars each section. The way NASCAR has set it up it’s just a nice test session for some of the cars lower down in the points. Since that is the case why not just have another test session for everyone and let it go at that.

L Taylor
08/29/2008 11:36 AM

First Belgians buy Bud, now they screw up the Shootout. I’m going to find a different beer to buy. Seriously!

Jeff G
08/29/2008 11:41 AM

Hey people, step back and take a deep breath.

Remember, this has always been a made for TV “Entertainment” race. The sponsor paid BIG bucks to put it on. THEY, not NASCAR make the rules.

I agree NASCAR could say “we don’t like it, so go away”, but then all of you would cry even louder! Where did the shootout go!!!???

Budweiser is in control here. If they want to change it from a race of drivers to a race of car manufactures, then they can.

NASCAR’s only option is either do it or not do it. Or find another sponsor for it.

Whether any of us like it or not. NASCAR is a business. They are like all businesses. They exist for one reason, and one reason only. To MAKE MONEY!!

The only way anyone here or at the track will change any of their decisions is to not watch or go to a race.

The sport is what it is. As of now the sponsors control it more than ever.

Again, this is a made for TV race. Nothing more.

NASCAR has a lot bigger problems than how Budweiser wants to run their TV race.

BTW, Douglas, your little “NA$CRAP” reference is getting a little old. It’s NASCAR anyway you want to put it. Like I said before, you just need to stop watching for a while. It is causing you way too much stress.

Also, Dennis in cal., the rules here say you cannot put your comment in all caps. That means you are screaming.

Again people, (including you Douglas) the reason we are all here commenting is because we love to watch NASCAR races and love to complain….. :o)

08/29/2008 01:38 PM

In truth , NASCAR has several options in dealing with this . First and foremost would be to point out to Bud that their idea needs some work . Then supplying some input on what would make for a better show . Thats exactly what Brians’ father and grandfather would have done , rather than stand by and watch another facet of the sport go down the drain .
Bud , and for that matter all of the sponsors in NASCAR have the right to come up with any promotional ideas they want . However NASCAR has the final say on the actual event . But there is no leadership at all in NASCAR , merely stuffed shirts marketing dept. rejects and spoiled rich kids ( not to mention a curiously silent uncle who needs to stop being so silent ) allowing things like this to happen . Can anyone look at the new version of the Shootout and say it was designed by anybody who knows or cares anything about stock car racing ?

08/29/2008 02:18 PM

First, I hope that Webster’s decides that NA$CRAP really is a word and starts putting it into their dictionaries!

After all, it is a fitting description!

Second, and talk about “fitting”, a comedian, Drew Carey, is the “GRAND MARSHALL” at California! He will give the command to start the engines, and then the real comedy begins!

Jeff G
08/29/2008 03:20 PM

Hey Douglas, you are too cool! I’ve concluded that none of us here love this sport more than you do!

After all, you keep us all thinking and on our toes!

By the way, I think there is a way a person can submit “new” words to Webster’s. You should go to their website and submit “NA$CRAP”. You just never know..

Keep the comments comming! I look forward to them!

Thank’s man!

08/29/2008 03:41 PM

Thanks Jeff G, that is exactly what I am trying to do! Keep people thinking so they do not become complacent to what could be, once again, A TREMENDOUS SPORT!

Also, while doing a little trail riding out back, horseback, I put terms into perspective!

So, try this on for size:


So? With that in mind, just who’s “description” actually portrays what is on the track right now????

OK! OK! I will take a BOW!!

Thank you!

08/29/2008 05:04 PM

People bitch and complain but usually don’t change. The ONLY thing that nascar understands is spectators and viewers and money.

If you REALLY don’t like it then don’t watch it.

For example I NEVER watch California, Indy, Pocono, or Michigan to name a few.

But I will watch Richmond, Bristol, and Martinsville.

It’s not much, but it’s what I can do for my part.

Janet Monnin
08/30/2008 02:56 PM

I was really looking forward watching my favorite driver, Tony Stewart compete in the 2009 Shoot-Out. Now that won’t happen, thanks to the rule changes and that isn’t fair or right. You are penalizing the drivers who have earned that right to participate in the race and rewarded the drivers who have not either earned or deserve that right. Thanks A Lot, I have a few tickets to the Shoot-Out for sale, I won’t be going this year. Janet Monnin

08/30/2008 09:03 PM

Sure, let’s find another way to reward teams for something they did months ago.

Amy, I agree with most of your points, but you can’t have it both ways.

As currently formatted (2008 style), you are rewarding teams for something they did months ago.

Next year will be no different in that regard.

The real issue here is that Bud wanted nothing to do with a lineup based on Coors pole awards. Can’t blame ‘em for that, I suppose.

Until NASCAR stops kowtowing to the sponsors (wake me when that happens), you are going to have these bizarre scenarios. Best thing that could have happened was to have Coors buy out Bud for the naming rights, call it the Coors Shootout and tweaked it a bit as you suggested.

08/31/2008 12:39 PM

Well, Jr. gave his opinion on the matter and he doesn’t like it either. So nascar just MIGHT listen to him since they don’t listen to the fans.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Fans To Decide Format of Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.