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Will Sprint Cup Fields Be Full Throughout 2013?

By admin | February 20, 2013

Will there be full fields in the Sprint Cup division of NASCAR once racing leaves Daytona?

By Richard Allen

A number of factors can be used to discern the health of a particular form of motorsports. Grandstand attendance, television ratings, the number of new sponsors being brought into the sport and a number of other indicators can serve to measure the well being of any form of racing. But perhaps the most accurate means of accessing the sport’s health is the car count at each race.

This year, the Daytona 500 has drawn a field of 45 cars vying for 43 starting spots in ‘The Great American Race’. In 2012, this race drew 49 entrants. A total of 57 cars were entered in 2005 while 54 cars posted qualifying speeds on pole day in 2010.

While this year’s number may not seem like a major drop off from last season’s, it is a bit of a concern. If the sport’s biggest and most prestigious event barely draws enough cars to fill the field, what does that indicate for the remainder of the schedule?

Consider, however, that a major part of the problem has been a scarcity of parts for the new Gen-6 car that NASCAR is debuting for the Sprint Cup division in 2013. Even major teams have complained that the pieces needed to assemble the new race car, which are produced only by certain suppliers, were slow to be delivered.

A change in the rules regarding Start and Park teams is possibly keeping some teams that might otherwise serve as “field fillers” from entering races. A payout structure that will not allow teams to simply start a race then drive to the garage area after only a few laps and still make a profit could be discouraging some.

Even with these factors, however, it must be considered that the drop offs in car counts detailed above began before the Gen-6 hit the track this year and before the change in start and park payouts. There are other reasons for declines in car counts. Sprint Cup racing is a very expensive proposition and companies would almost certainly be less willing to hand over the necessary $10- $25 million often required to get their logo on the hood of a NASCAR racer when they take into account the fact that attendance and television ratings have dropped significantly from the highs of a decade ago.

While parts are harder to come by because of the new car and the economy is playing a role in certain areas of the sport, there would be more teams attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 if the sport were healthy enough to support them. If this race can barely fill out a 43 car field, will there be others that don’t meet the standard number of starters?

My unofficial count of cars and drivers listed on the website showed a total of 26 teams that I would consider rock solid and certain to enter every race. I then counted another 14 teams that I consider very likely, but not absolutely certain, to enter all the races. That adds up to 40 full-time teams which means NASCAR will have to depend on at least three unaccounted for entrants to show up each week.

It seems as if there is a chance, for whatever reason, of a few short fields in 2013.

In order to play along for your chance to win $25 by predicting the race winner of the Daytona 500, you must follow @RacingWithRich on Twitter or “Like” the RacingWithRich page on Facebook. Your pick MUST be submitted on one of those two social media locations. Submissions will ONLY be accepted between 8:00am and 1:00pm(eastern) on February 24. Twitter followers MUST use the hastag #RWRDaytona500while Facebook submissions can simply be made under the post announcing the opening for submissions. Click here for full contest rules.


Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “Will Sprint Cup Fields Be Full Throughout 2013?”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 20th, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I feel if Bristol had to have 34 or 36 Cars, I want to see more legit racing. Even if it had to be 25 Cars or the Top 25 Exclusively, it would be better than having to cause a couple extra cautions each time,Rich.

  2. Ken Says:
    February 21st, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Rich, the numbers say it all. There are only 45 cars at Daytona. I can remember back in the day where 60, or more, cars would show up to try to qualify for the Daytona 500. You WILL see less than full fields this year as teams have to sit out for lack of sponsorship. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if fields dropped to below 40 before mid-season. And wait until the viewership really takes a nose dive! But, Brian says that all is good, and the sport is stronger than ever. The interest in one particular driver proves that!

  3. The Mad Man Says:
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:06 am

    There will be a full field for every race because NASCAR will see to it somehow that they have 43 cars start even if it means “blessing” some East & West Series teams just to S&P using “borrowed” cars from Cup teams. They don’t want to pay back the networks any money.

  4. Russ Says:
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:59 am

    This is in part, a lingering consequence of the late unlamented Top 35 rule. Like Ken I can remember the days when the qualy races at Daytona were important, decent cars not making the field was not uncommon.
    However the Top 35 ended all of that. And you really have to question something. How Nascars actions seem to discourage rather than encourage additional entries.

    But finally the Mad Man is correct, for all the complaints about S&P’s Nascar will bring them in, just like they have in the past, to fill the field.

  5. Nick S Says:
    February 21st, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    There will be at 43 cars every week. There are teams still preparing their cars. Tristar will bring the 91 at some point and run 2 cars. Its nothing to be concerned. Competitive teams they will be short. They’ll have a full field if they go short somebody will come take the place.