In what could be the deepest and most talented field to date, NASCAR announced Wednesday the list of eligible competitors for the 2012 Shootout.

 
The 34th annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 18 with a start time set for 8:10 p.m. FOX and MRN will broadcast live nationally. Criteria are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having been active in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 2011 season:
·               The highest ranked 25 competitors in 2011 NSCS driver points
·               Previous winners at Daytona, including the Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, and Shootout events
 
“By taking the top 25 competitors in last year’s driver points and combining that with former race winners at Daytona, you have all the ingredients for an extremely deep and talented field of drivers for the 2012 Shootout,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “When you take a look at the roster of drivers that this entails, I have to believe this is one of the most competitive fields that have ever been assembled for this event.”
 
The race distance will again be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.
 
Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Shootout Draw Party on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4.
 
The Shootout – a “non-points” event for NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors – was first held in 1979. Kurt Busch is the defending race champion.
 
Drivers eligible for the 2012 Shootout include:
 
2011 Top 25 Driver Points
Tony Stewart
Carl Edwards
Kevin Harvick
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Ryan Newman
Kurt Busch
Kyle Busch
Clint Bowyer
Kasey Kahne
AJ Allmendinger
Greg Biffle
Paul Menard
Martin Truex Jr.
Marcos Ambrose
Jeff Burton
Juan Pablo Montoya
Mark Martin
David Ragan
Joey Logano
Brian Vickers
 
Others (criteria in parentheses)
Bill Elliott (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Shootout)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Shootout)
Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500)
Terry Labonte (Shootout)
Ken Schrader (Shootout)