NASCAR expands 2015 Sprint Unlimited Field

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15 2014: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15 2014:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 15 2014: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

NASCAR has added another twist to the event that gives race-starved fans their first look at the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.  NASCAR announced Monday that all 16 Chase drivers from 2014 will be eligible to compete in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The 75-lap, non-points race will once again kick off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing season Saturday, Feb. 14. The race will now feature an expanded field of drivers based on new eligibility requirements.

The race has been known as the Bud Shootout, the Busch Clash and has been run since 1979 using various eligibility requirements and formats.  For 2015, a minimum of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are eligible to participate.  In addition to the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participants, the field also will include 2014 Pole Award winners, as well as former Sprint Unlimited race winners and Daytona 500 pole winners who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2014. Any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points who are not already eligible.

For the past two years the race has been divided into three segments (30 laps, 25 laps, 20-laps), with online fan voting deciding lengths of the segments, requirements for mandatory pit stops, and the number of drivers eliminated. The total race distance was 75 laps (187.5 miles). For 2013, a the vote resulted in a mandatory four-tire pit stop, and no cars eliminated. For 2014, voting set the starting lineup per final practice speeds and required mandatory pit stops after the second segment. The format for 2015 is expected sometime in the next month. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.