NASCAR & Auto Racing

Shootout changes format

The top six teams from each manufacturer -- Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota -- in the final 2008 car owner standings will be eligible to run in the season-opening Budweiser Shootout at Daytona under format changes announced Tuesday.

Rival beer sponsor Coors replaced Budweiser as the sponsor of the pole award for Sprint Cup races this season, so that signaled an end to having Cup teams earn Shootout spots based on being the top qualifier for each race.

The change is bad news for Joe Nemechek, who won a pole at Talladega this year with single-car Furniture Row Racing.

"It's just tough," Nemechek said. "Now winning a pole doesn't mean anything. Being in that race has always been a big bonus for the teams. ... Shame on NASCAR. It should have sold the whole thing to Coors and not Mickey Moused around with a half-and-half deal. It's disappointing it has turned out the way it did."

Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications, said he understood Nemechek's reaction.

"If I were somebody who might be adversely affected I wouldn't be too happy about it," Hunter said. "But change occurs, and we will move forward with it.

"It is performance driven. All of our teams have the opportunity to be one of top six in that brand."

The change, however, looks to benefit bigger, multicar teams.

SORENSON TO JOIN GILLETT EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS: Reed Sorenson has signed a multiyear contract to drive for Gillett Evernham Motorsports beginning next season.

Sorenson, 22, will leave the No. 41 Dodges at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to join GEM.

Tom Reddin, GEM's chief executive officer, said the team will announce Sorenson's sponsor and car number soon.

DEATH OF 'MOTOR MAN' HITS AREA RACING SCENE: A Burlington man quite literally died doing what he loved this past weekend.

Harold Terrell suffered a fatal heart attack Saturday in the infield pit area at Orange County Speedway near Rougemont. He was 64.

A short-track driver in the 1960s and '70s, he moved into ownership and helped field cars for several Late Models standouts, including NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Scott Riggs, a former Orange County champion.

Terrell's most indelible mark came further behind the scenes as an engine builder and carburetor specialist.