There are 44 cars on the entry list for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. That means there will be a full field with one driver going home early.
The Sprint Cup Series wasn’t so lucky last week at the Kentucky Speedway. With only 42 cars there, the race started one car short of a full field for the first time since 1996.
Drivers, however, aren’t too concerned.
“For me, it’s more important to have quality cars on the racetrack week in and week out than a number,” Clint Bowyer said. “I don’t think any set number has anything to do with the product of our racing and this sport of NASCAR.”
Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both believe fans want quality racing, even if it means fewer cars.
“We don’t need 43 cars out there to put on a great race,” Gordon said. “I’m not really that focused on it. Whether there are 35 cars or 45 cars, to me, that doesn’t really make a big difference.”
Despite the short field, Johnson said NASCAR continues to be competitive compared to other racing series. For example, there were 23 cars at last Sunday’s Grand Prix of Houston for the IRL IndyCar Series.
“I hate to see it, obviously,” Johnson said. “There’s that prestige of having 43 since way back. But I don’t think it has any bearing on the strength of our sport. When I look at all the markers our sponsors look at and why they’re partners on our race car, things are going in the right direction.”
Wallace to start in Firecracker 250
Darrell Wallace Jr.’s careful progression into NASCAR will continue Friday night when he makes a rare start in the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace, a two-time winner on the Camping World Truck Series, will be driving in the Nationwide Series for the second time this year and just the sixth time in his two-year career.
He started third and finished 31st earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway.
“[It’s] another speedway race. I know that. But I’m being optimistic about it, and we’ll be just fine,” Wallace said.
Wallace became the first black driver to win a NASCAR race last October at Martinsville, Va., since Wendell Scott won at Jacksonville’s Speedway Park on Dec. 1, 1963.
Scott is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program, and he’s being groomed at Joe Gibbs Racing for bigger things in the future. Exactly what, he still doesn’t know.