Daytona International Speedway announced today that the annual non-points race that kicks off Speed Weeks at Daytona will now be referred to as the Sprint Unlimited. The event was formerly called the Budweiser Shootout but after Budweiser backed out sponsorship for that race after 2012, Sprint stepped up as sponsor. The 2013 version of the Sprint Unlimited will be run on February 16 and it will feature past winners of the event along with pole winners from the previous season.
Questions concerning the event arose after Budweiser stepped out as sponsor after 2012 but NASCAR keep saying that the event will run. Media outlets had put out the rumor that event would no longer continue in 2013 due to the sponsorship issue but NASCAR was bound to find a way to get the event to run. Now with sponsorship secure, the event will run in 2013. The format of this race has changed every year but NASCAR has yet to release the information for this year’s event and all we know is the Sprint Unlimited will be 75 laps.
This event has featured great action over the past few years and it is always a fan favorite. NASCAR fans love this event to kick off the new season. This event is the kick off of Speed Weeks every year. Budweiser Speed Weeks is the new name of the week leading up to the Daytona 500. Gatorade formerly sponsored Speed Weeks but with Budweiser wanting sponsorship of something during the Speed Weeks, they took over as sponsor of the whole Speed Weeks including the duel races.
ESPN’s Marty Smith also reported regarding sponsor Sprint that they will no longer sponsor the Pit Crew Challenge which kicks off All-Star Week at Charlotte in May. The Pit Crew Challenge has grown to be a fan favorite event and fans will like to see NASCAR find sponsorship so the event can continue being a part of All-Star Week.
My Take: As a race fan, I love this event and glad NASCAR found sponsorship to run the race. But the name of the event now, Sprint Unlimited, confuses me. Sprint is the sponsor so they do get their name as the title of the event but what is “unlimited?” Unlimited doesn’t have any race meaning. Unlimited what? Laps? Cars? Concession stand items? Unlimited data and such is what Sprint offers for some of their products but do they have to name a race after it? For a typical race fan, unlimited has no meaning to them and I think NASCAR and Sprint could have done better with naming the race. The Sprint Shootout sounds nice and so does the Sprint Dash. Corporate NASCAR definitely spilled into the name of this race and it may not leave race fans happy.
Despite the name, the excitement of this event will never fade away. After a long off-season, race fans will celebrate when the event goes green in Daytona on February 16th. The Sprint Unlimited will provide much action as the drivers battle for the crown and of course, some cash. The Sprint Unlimited is only 39 days away and that means the 2013 season is just around the corner.
By Jason Schultz