The criteria to qualify for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout was released on Wednesday and once again it's different than it was the previous year.
The 2012 field for the Daytona exhibition race will include the top 25 drivers in driver points and past Daytona winners (any driver who has won a Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 or Budweiser Shootout).
The result? Well, the odds are that your favorite driver is eligible, because a whopping 33 drivers can run the race. The field is listed below, though it'd take less time to tell you who's not eligible to run the race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Martin Truex Jr.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Bill Elliott (previous Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout winner)
Geoff Bodine (previous Daytona 500 and Budweiser Shootout winner)
Derrike Cope (previous Daytona 500 winner)
Michael Waltrip (previous Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 winner)
Jamie McMurray (previous Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 winner)
Trevor Bayne (previous Daytona 500 winner)
Terry Labonte (previous Budweiser Shootout winner)
Ken Schrader (previous Budweiser Shootout winner)
Will all 33 drivers attempt the race? At this point it's impossible to say yes. Kurt Busch Ragan, Vickers, Elliott, Bodine, Cope, Bayne, Labonte and Schrader all do not have Sprint Cup rides lined up for 2012 and Martin and Waltrip are slated to share the No. 00 for Waltrip's team. Busch won last year's event.
Perhaps the large field is the precursor to NASCAR banning radio communication between different teams in another effort to break up the tandem drafting. A large pack would be the best possible way to find out if any potential rules changes could break up the 2x2 racing.
Last year's Budweiser Shootout field was the 2010 Chase field, past Sprint Cup champions, past Daytona winners and the rookie of the year winners from 2001-2010.
This year's Shootout is Saturday, February 18, and will be a two-segment 75 lap race.