Carl Edwards on the Pole for Bud Shoot-out, hopes to finish on 4 tires
The "Super Bowl" of racing is no doubt the Daytona 500, but the races run in the week and a half prior to the 500 are a lot of fun as well. One of the most famous is the Budweiser Shoot-out, this year run in two segments of 50 and 25 laps with a ten minute pit stop in between segments.
The first group featured the top three finishers in 2009. Jimme Johnson drew first, and the Bud girl actually selected his "bottle" drawing the 16th position, an improvement from his starting positions in years past. Mark Martin grabbed the 6th spot, but by virtue of his wreck in the first practice session, will start in the very back.
Jeff Gordon announced just before drawing the 23rd position that daughter Ella will soon be a big sister. He joked that he is just following in teammate Jimmie Johnson's footsteps, but confirmed that he and his wife will welcome a second child this year.
The second group of drivers started with Brian Vickers. He chose the bottle pointed out by host Kenny Wallace. The bottle had a hitch-hiker, a lady bug, and Vickers drew starting position number 3. Carl Edwards, whose wife Kate is due on February 17th, captured the pole position, leaving no real anticipation for the later draws.
Ryan Newman followed, drawing the 4th starting position and Kasey Kahne, still driving for Richard Petty Motorsports, but with a new re-organized group, drew next, drawing 19th.
The next group started with Denny Hamlin, the unintentional cause of the wreck in the first practice this morning and his starting position for the Shoot-out will be his actual starting position, 24th. Owner/Driver Tony Stewart was up next, pulling number 13 out of his Budweiser bottle, the number he claims to hate. Juan Pablo Montoya was next, and drew 20th starting position for his first Bud Shoot-out. Greg Biffle, returning with Roush Racing again this year, drew 5th.
The next group were five former Champions, led by Kurt Busch, again with Penske Racing, the only remaining Dodge team in the Sprint Cup Series. He drew starting position number 22. Matt Kenseth, the new daddy of last year, was up next with number 8. Bobby Labonte, getting some of the loudest cheers of the night, grabbed position number 12, commenting that he is "already one position better than Tony Stewart".
The next group featured Past Bud Shoot-out winners, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., winner of two shoot-outs in 2003 and 2008. Kevin Harvick and Kenny Schrader were the other two, but Gil Martin stepped up to the bar to draw for Kevin, suffering from the flu, drawing position number 2, right on the front row alongside Carl Edwards. Kenny Schrader won the race in both 1989 and 1990, but was more concerned about how thirsty the beer bottles on the "bar" were making him. He drew position number 14 and will drive the Red Bull Toyota for this year's race.
Fan favorite Dale Jr. stepped up next, commenting that his new beard was originally grown as a disguise, but because his sister and mom gave him so much "crap about it" he'd decided to keep it. He starts in position number 11.
The next group featured former Daytona 500 winners, and included Derrike Cope and Michael Waltrip. Joey Logano, the 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year was also included in the group, and Joey had to be accompanied by Crew Chief, Greg Zippadelli, as he isn't actually old enough to be included in a Budweiser sponsored festivity. Zippy drew the number for Joey and his young driver will start 21st, interestingly the age required to participate in the draw. Derrike Cope was complimented by host, Kenny Wallace, on the way he dresses himself, drew 18th position.
Mikey Waltrip, now an owner and not a full time driver, was up next, sporting short hair for the first time I can remember, drew the 15th position. Mikey will drive the number 51, a tribute to Dale Earnhardt.
The last group consisted of winners of the July race at Daytona, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton and John Andretti. This group appeared to have been imbibing on the Budweiser in the waiting tent, providing a few laughs. Jamie drew 9th starting position. Jeff Burton had a really busy day today, driving his own car and the 29 of Kevin Harvick. He drew the 7th starting position. John Andretti, driving a limited number of races in 2010, drew the 10th starting position. Kyle Busch didn't get to have any kind of drama, ending up with the last bottle left on the bar, the 17th starting position. He joked about the amount of hate in the crowd for him, but regardless of the opinions of the spectators, he has proven he is a great driver, and spent some time explaining the formation of KBM and what exactly his new company does.
The Budweiser Shoot-out will get underway on Saturday night on FOX and no doubt we'll have a Live Thread going.
Congrats Carl! Let's hope the baby doesn't pick Saturday to make an early appearance.