With the NASCAR season set to resume, the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series fields will be a bit larger. On Monday, NASCAR announced the grids for both lower-tier national series will be increased to 40 entries each from the usual 36 (Xfinity) and 32 (Truck).
As part of the season restart plan, which features seven races for all three national series (including Cup) across eleven days, NASCAR introduced a condensed race day schedule that includes limiting track time. With qualifying being cancelled for such events as a result, the Xfinity and Truck Series—which usually see drivers failing to qualify on time—will accommodate as many entrants as possible.
The Xfinity and Truck Series typically feature far smaller and less-funded operations than their Cup counterpart. As such, the expanded fields will keep such teams from wasting resources traveling to the tracks only to be sent home due to poor qualifying times.
Due to the extraordinary circumstances thanks to COVID-19, NASCAR was able to legally introduce the field increase via Section 1.6 of their rulebook, which allows rule changes under the EIRI (“Except in Rare Instances”) provision. Points earned will also remain the same, and the grid sizes will return to normal once the situation is finally cleared up.
Assuming a full field of 40 participates in the Trucks, it will be the series’ largest grids since 2014, a year before the entrants were reduced from 36 to 32. The Trucks have not seen 40 drivers in a race since the 1998 Sam’s Town 250 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“This move is critical for the long-term health of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said. “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.”
Somewhat ironically, the lower series had been decreasing field sizes, though it was to discourage smaller teams from start-and-parking and other controversial tactics. From 2018 to 2020, the Xfinity grid was gradually reduced by two cars to the current 36.
The Xfinity Series, which lost seven races to the season pause, will make its return at Darlington Raceway on 19 May, two days after the Cup Series. Seven Truck races were postponed due to the pandemic, and the series will return at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 26 May, a day after the Xfinity race there.