Red Bull Racing will hope to make the most of a double entry into the annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona ahead of the opening round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup – the Daytona 500 – a week later.
Both Brian Vickers and Scott Speed have secured a slot in the non-championship event, with former F1 racer Speed taking his place on the grid after NASCAR's announcement that each manufacturer would be allowed a 'wild card' in the race.
That wild card was handed down to the seventh-highest placed car for each manufacturer based on the 2008 owners standings, with Speed earning his slot in the race after the #22 car campaigned last season by the now-closed Bill Davis Racing team didn't take up an entry.
With NASCAR having introduced its testing ban for this season, the entry will give Speed extra seat time ahead of the 500 and he admitted it would be vital as a rookie driver.
“It was really a pleasant surprise to hear that we were going to be in the Shootout,” he said. “It was totally unexpected. The experience of being able to race on Saturday night is honestly going to be so valuable for me and the entire #82 team. It's a great opportunity for us to test our stuff for the Daytona 500, and it's an opportunity for me to get some more track time, which is always a good thing for a rookie.”
Team-mate Vickers meanwhile has past experience of the Shootout having taken part in the event on three occasions in the past and he too said he would be treating the event as something of a test for the start of the season.
“It's more like a mini test,” he said. “Certainly, it's for fun - a dash for cash. No points are on the line, and it's all about the win. But we'll treat it as a mini test, even though the track conditions will be far different from the 500.
“The Shootout is always a fun race. It is the first race of our season, and everyone is always excited to be racing again. It gives you a preview of what is to come in the Daytona 500. I'm ready. Bring it on.”