While tomorrow night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway is set to be the first Sprint Cup race without a full, 43-car field since 2001, Cup veterans Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer both said this morning at Kentucky that they’re not taking that as a sign of trouble for the sport.
There has been some movement in the Cup entry list today, as the No. 44 Xxxtreme Motorsports car for J.J. Yeley has been withdrawn due to what the team called “in-house politics that needed to be resolved” on Twitter.
An additional BK Racing Toyota, the No. 93, has been added for Mike Bliss but this weekend’s Kentucky field still remains at 42 cars. However, Johnson and Bowyer took the situation in stride.
“I don’t have any concern with it,” Johnson said to reporters. “If you compare our form of racing to others, we have double the fields compared to a lot of other major auto racing series.
“I hate to see it, obviously. I mean, there’s that prestige of having [a 43-car field] since way back. But I don’t think it has any bearing on the strength of our sport.
“…The fact of the matter is this is the top form of racing, in my mind, in the world – to some, maybe just in North America – and it’s not cheap. I understand why there could be a short field, but there’s no concern on my behalf.”
As for Bowyer, he said that it was more important to have a quality grid rather than getting to a magic number of sorts.
“I don’t think any set number has anything to do with the product of our racing and the sport of NASCAR,” he said.
“It has to do with…being able to put a consistent, race-winning competition on that race track for our fans.
“I think that’s what’s gonna make a good race. It’s not any kind of number you can ever come up with.”
The last time a Sprint Cup race ran without 43 cars was the 2001 season finale at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which featured 42 cars.