The Daytona 500 still runs the risk of not seeing a full field to open up the NASCAR Next Generation era, and the “Great American Race” has never seen less than 40 cars.
It’s hard to believe, but after more than two and a half months of a hiatus in action after Kyle Larson won his first championship at Phoenix Raceway in early November, we’re just over three weeks away from the scheduled start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup series season.
The 64th annual Daytona 500 kicks off on Sunday, February 20 at Daytona International Speedway, exactly one week after Super Bowl LVI and two weeks after the Next Gen car’s debut in the Busch Light Clash Exhibition Race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
However, matters are far from over in terms of what the field will look like for the 2022 season opener.
From now on there is only 39 entries which was solidified in this year’s run of the “Great American Race”. A full field contains 40 cars.
For context, 36 cars are locked in the field thanks to the charter system. All others must qualify for the race either by their speed in the single car qualifying session or by their final position in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels. Last year, eight cars struggled for those four extra spots.
This year, there are only three queues to do so.
We’ll spare you the hassle of reading a complete list of the 36 patented entries; if you want to see the patented entries, see here.
The most important thing to note here is that all the charters are in fact insured for the 2022 season after a bizarre silly season full of charter movement.
But the three open entries include the following:
- # 27 Team Hezeberg Powered by Reaume Brothers Racing Ford – Jacques Villeneuve
- # 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet – Noah Gragson
- # 66 MBM Motorsports Ford – Timmy Hill
This leaves another open space before we have to start the discussion about which car (s) can not reach the field.
Who will fill that remaining space?
Will the entry list eventually exceed 40 cars, resulting in at least one of the open entries looking in on the outside?
Here’s something to keep in mind: no Daytona 500 has ever seen less than 40 cars.
In fact, no race at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4,023-kilometer) high-bank oval in Daytona Beach, Florida has seen less than 40 cars since the 1968 Firecracker 400 had just 37.
Since then, the track has hosted 106 races, including 53 of 63 Daytona 500s.
The Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to air on the Daytona 500 Series on Thursday, February 17, with live coverage to be provided by Fox Sports 1 from 7pm ET. The Daytona 500 itself will be broadcast live on Fox from 2.30pm ET on Sunday, February 20th.