Posted: Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Shootout a preview of season to come

The Budweiser Shootout all-star race at the Daytona International Speedway has been more than an exhibition that kicks off the stock car season. It has provided an interesting look into the Daytona 500, as well as the championship.

The only drivers in this year's race are those who won a pole position last year or former winners of the all-star race. That limits the field to just 22 drivers, and one of those, Terry Labonte, is skipping the event.

The starting lineup will be set in a blind drawing; the main event will last only 70 laps with the winner earning at least $200,000. And while teams won't use the same car for the all-star race and the Daytona 500 eight days later, the Shootout has provided a glimpse of what to expect.

Five drivers followed up Shootout victories with Daytona 500 wins a week later — Dale Jarrett in 2000 and 1996, Jeff Gordon in 1997, Bill Elliott in 1987 and Bobby Allison in 1982. And seven all-star race winners went on to win the series championship -- Dale Earnhardt in 1980, 1986, 1991 and 1993, Tony Stewart in 2002, Gordon in 1997 and Darrell Waltrip in 1981.

Cities compete to be home to Hall of Fame

While Atlanta, Richmond, Va., and Kansas City are in the running for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, most insiders feel the attraction will end up in Daytona Beach or Charlotte, N.C.

Not only do Daytona Beach and Charlotte have the best credentials — Daytona Beach is where NASCAR was founded; Charlotte is the home for most of the sports' teams and racing operations — they have a better ability to attract fans.

Some sanctioning body officials said they like Kansas City because it's in the geographic center of the country.

Daytona Beach, on the other hand, has been a leader in tourism for decades, while Charlotte can offer an endless supply of racing sideshows. Fans can travel to Charlotte and spend a day at the Hall of Fame, then spend a couple more days touring more than 75 shops within 90 miles of town.

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