Sunday's expanded Budweiser Shootout at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway is the traditional NASCAR Winston Cup curtain raiser and the 18 drivers who were able to take up their entry (Geoffrey Bodine could not get a deal together), will be headed by two-time Shootout winner Ken Schrader.

The 45-year old MB2 Motorsports driver picked out the number one ball in the FA Cup style draw at Daytona on Friday but his joy was tempered slightly when Dale Earnhardt drew the number two slot for a place on the outside of the front row.

Earnhardt's black No.3 Goodwrench Tools Chevrolet will line up alongside Schrader's No.36 M&M's Pontiac with Dale Jarrett's No.88 UPS Ford in third position.

All three have tasted victory at Daytona before although only Jarrett and Earnhardt have won Winston Cup races at the three-turn Superspeedway. Schrader won the 1989 and 1990 Bud Shootout, then known as the Busch Clash while Earnhardt (1998) and Jarrett (1993, 1996, 2000) have gone one better and won the following weekends Daytona 500.

Jarrett and fourth place starter Mark Martin will both be hoping to begin new associations with sponsors on a winning note, Jarrett starts a long-term deal with UPS this Sunday while Martin and his Roush Racing operation open a similar deal with Pfizer/Viagra. If either driver emerges from the 70-lap event victorious it will be the first Winston Cup (albeit a non-point scoring) victory as a primary sponsor for both concerns.

While Schrader, Earnhardt, Jarrett and Martin were thanking their lucky stars, those at the rear end of the 18 car field were looking ahead at a tough task with Earnhardt's Richard Childress Racing team-mate Mike Skinner drawing the number 18 starting slot alongside Ted Musgrave, who will pilot Junie Donlavey's No.90 Hills Coffee Bros Ford in what could be his only Winston Cup appearance of the year.

The Bud Pole King of the 2000 season, Rusty Wallace, will start only 15th, directly behind Penske Racing team-mate Jeremy Mayfield while Dodge's only representative, Bill Elliott, will start Ray Evernham's No.9 Dodge Intrepid from 13th spot while 2000 Winston Cup Champion Bobby Labonte is eighth.

Sadly, veteran Geoffrey Bodine was not able to secure a one-off ride for the event after a winter of scraping and searching and it looks as though the 51-year old driver will not be a regular part of the 2001 WC season. Bodine parted company with Joe Bessey Motorsports, formerly Geoff Bodine Racing, towards the end of last year and has been out of a drive ever since. A proposed deal to run brother Brett's No.11 Ralph's Supermarket Ford on Sunday failed to materialise and the 18 time Winston Cup winner was not present for the grid draw on Friday.