By AMANDA VINCENT
On Monday, NASCAR announced its format for the Sprint Unlimited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series exhibition race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, scheduled for Feb. 13. The sanctioning body also produced a list of drivers eligible for the event.
“We’re ready to go,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said. “The anticipation for this season, this event and this venue is unprecedented. We are excited how the new stadium will provide a state-of-the-art showcase for the brightest stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.”
The race will consist of 75 laps, split into two segments. The first segment will be made up of 25 laps, and 50 laps will comprise segment two. Starting positions and pit assignments will be determined by a random drawing the previous day.
Twenty-five drivers will start the 2016 Sprint Unlimited. Drivers eligible include the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup competitors, race pole award winners from last season, former Sprint Unlimited winners, and former Daytona 500 pole winners who ran full-time in 2015. The race field then will be brought to 25 drivers by virtue of the 2015 season-ending points standings.
Drivers eligible for the event include A.J. Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Austin Dillon, David Gilliland, Danica Patrick, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman.
Drivers in position to garner starting spots to fill-out the Sprint Cup Unlimited starting grid because of their points finish last season are Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson. Casey Mears also is expected to move into the 25-driver/car field as a result of Jeff Gordon’s retirement from Sprint Cup Series competition.
If one or more drivers listed above, in addition to Gordon, do not enter the event, drivers in provisional spots to replace him/them include Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Sam Hornish Jr., David Ragan and Trevor Bayne, in that order.
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