Earnhardt Jr. says Shootout's final segment should have been shortened

FONTANA, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. said NASCAR made one big mistake in its changes to the Budweiser Shootout All-Star race at Daytona by not shortening the length of the final segment.

"Fifty laps at the end is way too long," Earnhardt said Friday. "We're all just going to ride around out there for the first 30 laps. The last segment should be 10 laps. Now that's a shootout, but NASCAR just doesn't get it."

On Tuesday NASCAR officials announced changes to the format for the 2009 Bud Shootout. The top six cars in the 2008 standings from each manufacturer will compete in the event. The race will have five additional laps for a total of 75 laps, including a 25-lap opening segment and a 50-lap final segment.

The drivers who qualified for past Bud Shootouts included pole winners from the previous season and former winners of the event.

Earnhardt said he has no problem with the changes in the qualifying rules, but he has a big problem with a long final segment.

"Fifty laps is forever on that track," Earnhardt said. "It would be a lot more exciting for the fans and a lot more fun for us if we only did 10 laps at the end."

Denny Hamlin, who won the race as a rookie in 2006, said he agrees with Earnhardt.

"Only racing 10 laps at the end would be way better," Hamlin said. "The tires go away pretty fast at Daytona, but they still would have a lot of grip for just 10 or 15 laps. We could really go all out and the racing would be a lot closer."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.