Menard draw pole position for Bud Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA (TICKER) —The Budweiser Shootout has a new format. The selection show on Thursday probably took longer than the race itself will.

Paul Menard pulled the Budweiser bottle that held the No. 1 flag, meaning he will start from the pole position in a Ford on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Menard secured the top starting spot through the random draw that took place at the Speed Stage. Elliott Sadler’s Dodge will join Menard on the front row after he selected the second-place starting position.

The shootout’s revamped format will feature cars representing the top teams from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota. The lineup will consist of the top six teams and a wild-card entry from each manufacturer.

The race distance will be increased from 70 to 75 laps (187.5 miles) on the historic 2.5-mile tri-oval. It will have two segments, the first with 25 laps and the second with 50 laps.

Menard, who was among the last drivers to make their selection, is thrilled to be leading the starting field to the green flag.

“That’s pretty cool,” Menard said. “By the time I drew, there were about four numbers at the front and three back near 17th and 18th, so I felt like I had a pretty good shot at getting a good starting position.”

This weekend’s Budweiser Shootout marks Menard’s first start in the annual season opener. While this is Menard’s first start in the Shootout, it is Sadler’s fourth, and the only thing he is interested in is winning.

“That’s a good place to start,” Sadler said of his position. “I just love being a part of the Budweiser Shootout. This is a fun race to be a part of because it’s all about the win and you can go all out. So we’re going to keep pushing until it’s over.”

The top 10 was filled out by Reed Sorenson’s Dodge, the Toyotas of Scott Speed and Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet, Brian Vickers’ Toyota, Bobby Labonte’s Ford, defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Chevrolet and the Toyota of Kyle Busch.

The big names did not fare too well in the draw, as three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson landed the 21st spot. Jeff Gordon, a teammate of Johnson’s at Hendrick Motorsports, drew the 28th and final slot, while Kevin Harvick will start inside Gordon from No. 27.

All three drive Chevrolets.

Carl Edwards, the runner-up in last year’s championship, will start from the 11th position in a Ford.

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Updated Thursday, Feb 5, 2009