NASCAR changes Sprint Unlimited eligibility; Danica Patrick allowed in

The modification grants Danica Patrick a spot in the non-points race.

Often perception is everything, even if the desired effect isn’t always intended. That certainly applies to NASCAR expanding the field of the Sprint Unlimited held at Daytona International Speedway.

In Monday’s announcement, NASCAR stated all 16 drivers who qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup will compete in the non-points event that traditionally kicks off the season. Additionally, pole-sitters from the 2014 season and former Sprint Unlimited winners are eligible to race.

However, the wrinkle creating the perception, whether intended or not, that NASCAR is changing the rules just to ensure certain individuals can race in the season-opener is that all former Daytona 500 pole-sitters are also allowed to run in the Sprint Unlimited. As the adjusted criteria hands Danica Patrick a position in the now expanded field.

Otherwise not eligible, Patrick will be included by virtue of having taken the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, as will 2009 pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. While Truex may not be enough to capture the attention of the casual or non-casual fan, the same cannot be said of Patrick, one of the sport’s most popular and recognizable figures.

Overall, the 2015 Sprint Unlimited will feature 25 drivers in the 75-lap race. Brian Vickers, the pole-winner for the October race at Talladega, is eligible but will not participate due to medical reasons. His spot will likely be filled by Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer.

The Sprint Unlimited is Feb. 14 and will be broadcast on Fox.

Eligible drivers:

  • AJ Allmendinger
  • Aric Almirola
  • Austin Dillon
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Brian Scott
  • Brian Vickers
  • Carl Edwards
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Danica Patrick
  • David Gilliland
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Greg Biffle
  • Jamie McMurray
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Jimmie Johnson
  • Joey Logano
  • Kasey Kahne
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Kurt Busch
  • Kyle Busch
  • Kyle Larson
  • Martin Truex Jr.
  • Matt Kenseth
  • Ryan Newman
  • Tony Stewart
December 16, 2014 by : Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

Leave a Reply