Christian Petersen | Getty Images
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

NASCAR expands field for Xfinity, Gander Trucks races without qualifying

NASCAR competition officials announced Monday that the field size for Xfinity and Gander Trucks races temporarily will be expanded to a maximum of 40 vehicles each. The change will be in place for events scheduled without qualifying as the sanctioning body attempts to hold its first races after the outbreak of COVID-19.

The temporary procedure change increases the field from Xfinity Series’ customary 36 entries and the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series’ usual 32. No changes were made to the NASCAR Cup Series’ field size, which remains at a maximum 40 cars.

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NASCAR officials recently unveiled a revised schedule to return to racing with events scheduled at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway later this month. Races at both tracks will be held with safety precautions in place, including restricting track time, travel time and exposure for essential personnel by forgoing pole qualifying at the majority of rescheduled events.

Officials indicated that the sanctioning body did not want to punish part-time or new teams in each series by continuing to limit the field without the opportunity to qualify. The two series plan to return to their normal field sizes once restrictions begin to lift and qualifying is restored as part of the event schedule.

“This move is critical for the long-term health of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition. “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.”

Section 1.6 of the 2020 NASCAR Rule Book allows for the sanctioning body to adapt to unforeseen and/or extraordinary circumstances under the “EIRI” clause — “Except In Rare Instances” — which applies to the current public-health crisis and unprecedented NASCAR industry work stoppage.

The temporary change will not dramatically alter the points structure for each race. In the Xfinity Series, officials will continue to award a baseline of 40 championship points for first place and one point for 36th (formerly last) place; teams finishing 37th through 40th in the expanded field will also receive one point. In Gander Trucks, first place will continue to earn 40 points with five points for 32nd (formerly last) place; teams finishing 33rd through 40th in the expanded field will each receive five points.

A NASCAR spokesperson indicated that post-deadline entries will not be eligible for these events.