22 January 2013
Fans to choose format for first event of 2013
Other aspects of the event that will be open to fan input for those attending the race include the selection of the grand marshal, the honorary starter and trophy presenter, and fans also will have a role in driver introductions.
“Sprint has been a great partner for the sport and I applaud them for developing new and innovative ways to give the race fans an unprecedented role in The Sprint Unlimited,” added Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. “We have some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in sports and I'm looking forward to seeing the choices they make and how it will impact this exciting star-studded event.”
Several big names will be missing from this year's line-up including the two drivers who finished in first and second place in the Sprint Cup championship last season, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer. Neither driver claimed a pole position in 2012, and nor are they past winners of the old Budweiser Shootout.
Instead, the the Sprint Unlimited will see last year's race winner Kyle Busch defending his title against the likes of Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Juan Montoya.
AJ Allmendinger is also eligible to enter the race, but it seems unlikely that small independent team Phoenix Racing - with whom Allmendinger is expected to compete in several early Cup races in 2013 - will be able to provide a car for him to take up that spot.
Past winners of the event who are also still eligible to take a spot include Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte and Ken Schrader. In total, the field could consist of as many as 22 drivers on the night.
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