Daytona 500 Michael Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team will kick off the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season on Saturday, Feb. 7 by competing in the 31st annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Last night Waltrip entertained a live audience when he participated in the event’s qualifying-draw party. The driver pulled the number 17 flag from a Budweiser bottle which equated to his starting spot and it also was the car number his older brother Darrell ran when he won the 1989 Daytona 500.

“My draw obviously didn’t go well,” shrugged Waltrip. “I really enjoyed my time here and it was great to see all the fans that came to watch because it was cold out on the SPEED stage.”

Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout will feature a star-studded lineup as well as a new format. The field will consist of the top six teams from each manufacturer based on the final 2008 owner points standings Eligibility is based on owners competing in the event with the same manufacturer as last season. In addition, each manufacturer will be able to enter a seventh car or "wild card" entry.

The criteria for the wild card entry are:

  1. Any owner outside the top six in year end 2008 owner points whose driver is a past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion that attempted to qualify for all 2008 events (only one position will be filled per manufacturer and will be based on the most recent past champion per manufacturer).
  2. If an owner/manufacturer does not have a past champion driver, the next highest eligible owner outside the top six in year end 2008 owner points from each manufacturer will be eligible to compete in the event.

Among the drivers that will be competing against Waltrip include two-time and reigning Budweiser Shootout champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, three-time Budweiser Shootout winner Tony Stewart, Waltrip’s teammate David Reutimann, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. A total of 28 drivers will make up the field.

Drawing the pole position was Paul Menard. Reutimann and his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream MachineToyota Camry will line up 22nd.

The new format boasts a longer distance going from 70 to 75 laps (187.5 miles) on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The race will have two segments of 25 and 50 laps. Both green- and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments, there will be a 10-minute pit stop at which time teams will pit and may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments.

“I am really looking forward to racing my car in the Shootout on Saturday night,” said Waltrip. “It is a great opportunity for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to show off a little bit. I love Daytona.”

The Budweiser Shootout will get underway at 8 p.m. ET and will air on FOX television network and the MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio networks.

Budweiser Shootout | Daytona International Speedway
February 7, 2009 | Exhibition

1 98 Paul Menard Ford Quaker State / Menards
2 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools
3 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge McDonald's
4 82 Scott Speed* Toyota Red Bull
5 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express
6 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot
7 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull
8 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com
9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy
10 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
11 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac
12 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite
13 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam
14 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser
15 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal
16 6 David Ragan Ford UPS
17 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA
18 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Valvoline
19 20 Joey Logano* Toyota The Home Depot
20 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing
21 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
22 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
23 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar
24 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's
25 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt
26 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M
27 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil
28 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont