NASCAR is giving more Xfinity and Truck Series teams a chance as race format schedules are modified during the coronavirus pandemic.
The sanctioning body said Monday that it would expand the Xfinity Series field size from 36 to 40 and the Truck Series field size from 32 to 40. The changes come as NASCAR races won’t have qualifying in the near future. The two Xfinity Series races scheduled on May 19 and May 25 and the Truck Series race on May 26 are not scheduled to have practice or qualifying.
“This move is critical for the long-term health of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series,” NASCAR vice president Scott Miller said in a statement. “There are many new full-time and part-time team owners who have made significant commitments to our sport and secured sponsorship to participate this season. NASCAR wants to enable these teams to fulfill their commitments and grow their businesses without being affected by circumstances out of their control.”
Per the NASCAR rule book, the starting lineups for races without qualifying are set by owner’s points in descending order from the top of the standings. That means that the same teams at the bottom of the standings would be in line to miss out on however many races NASCAR feels it needs to run without qualifying during the pandemic. No races to run means no work for teams and their employees and that lack of work could easily lead to job losses and team closures.
If the first races of the season are any indication, the field size expansion won’t leave any established teams out. Forty cars attempted the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona. None of the other three races run after that had more than 39 entrants. Thirty-nine Truck Series teams were also entered at Daytona.
NASCAR said in a story on its website that it could change the field sizes during the middle of the season according to the “Except In Rare Instances” caveat in the rule book. That caveat, per NASCAR, “applies to the current public-health crisis and unprecedented NASCAR industry work stoppage.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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