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Sunday, February 19, 2012
Original eligibility rules to return in '13

By Terry Blount
ESPN.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Budweiser Shootout will return to its original eligibility rules of pole winners and former Shootout winners qualifying for the event in 2013, NASCAR announced Sunday.

Next season's field will consist of 2012 pole winners and past Shootout winners who attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season. These are the rules NASCAR had for the Shootout from 1979 through 2008.

"Fans have expressed their desire to see this event return to its original eligibility rules," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We listened and decided it would be best to return to the eligibility rules of years past adding further meaning to pole qualifying for each Sprint Cup race."

Sunday's pole winner at Daytona will earn a spot in next season's Shootout. Kyle Busch earned a spot by winning the Shootout last night with a dramatic last-lap pass on Tony Stewart in the closest finish (.013 seconds) in the history of the event.

Last season's 36-race schedule had 18 different pole winners.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com.