The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season began on February 9, 2008 at Daytona International Speedway with the Budweiser Shootout, followed by pole qualifying on Sunday, February 10, 2008 for the 50th Daytona 500 on February 17. The season continued with the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup beginning on September 14 with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and concluded with the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16. Due to the merger in 2005 of Sprint and Nextel, NASCAR's premier series was known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2008 season, crowning the first champion under the new Sprint sponsorship. The series has no connection with Sprint car racing, as NASCAR uses stock car bodies. Coors Light also replaced Budweiser as Official Beer of NASCAR, thereby becoming the new sponsor of the Pole Award given to pole winner in each Sprint Cup Series race. However, Budweiser was still the official sponsor for Bud Shootout at Daytona in February. Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports was crowned champion at season's end, making him only the second driver in NASCAR's top division to win three championships in a row, with the first being Cale Yarborough.