We all knew Kaulig Racing would run two chartered cars during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. One of which would be for Justin Haley (No. 31 Chevrolet). The other (No. 16 Chevrolet) would be split between AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson. The thing is, we just didn’t know which races would go to which drivers.
Now, we have a glimpse.
Gragson, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he’d made his debut with the team on March 20 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. We also know he will run the season opening Daytona 500 for Beard Motorsports.
We also know that Allmendinger isn’t too keen on Superspeedway races and will start this new deal in the Busch Light Clash instead.
That opened the door for defending Xfinity Series champion Hemric to get the car for the ‘500.
On Friday, Kaulig confirmed those plans. So, what else is out there for next month’s sold out 64th Running of the Great American Race (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN).
David Ragan and Cody Ware will drive the two Rick Ware Racing Ford’s and I don’t think they’ll run an open car.
Their third charter goes to Spire who has an open ride in the No. 77 Chevrolet but all signs point to it going to Landon Cassill joining full time driver Corey LaJoie with the team for Speedweeks.
MBM Motorsports announced their plans last week as a single car entry with Timmy Hill driving the No. 66 Ford. That’s an open car. Another open car is that one with Beard Motorsports and their No. 62 Chevrolet with Gragson.
The thing is, there’s just 38 cars announced for next month’s race. There’s 40 spots that we know will make the race with 36 of them going to chartered cars. Those cars are –
Hendrick Motorsports (Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Alex Bowman)
Joe Gibbs Racing (Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell)
Stewart-Haas Racing (Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, Cole Custer)
Team Penske (Austin Cindric R, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano)
Roush Fenway Racing (Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher)
Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick)
Trackhouse Racing (Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez)
Front Row Motorsports (Michael McDowell, Todd Gilliland R)
23XI Racing (Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch)
Kaulig Racing (Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley)
Petty GMS Racing (Ty Dillon, Erik Jones)
Spire Sports (Corey LaJoie, TBA)
Wood Brothers (Harrison Burton R)
JTG Daugherty Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)
Live Fast Motorsports (TBA)
Rick Ware Racing (David Ragan, Cody Ware
The not yet named drivers are for Spire (No. 77 Chevrolet) and Live Fast (No. 78. But, those two rides more than likely be BJ McLeod (Live Fast) and Cassill (Spire).
Here’s the problem, do we have any more open cars coming to round out the field or will we fall just short? Do we have two cars more to fill the field?
The 39th car could be Team Hezeberg who now looks like they’ll take on Daytona. They initially weren’t but they tested down there with Jacques Villeneuve.
So, where does No. 40 come from and do we get anymore after to make the Duels beneficial?
In 2018, there were no extra cars with 40 cars showing up for 40 spots.
In 2019, we had six open cars meaning two wouldn’t make it
2020 saw seven open cars and 2021 with eight. Now, we could be back to 40 cars for 40 spots or even worse, less. That’s unfortunately where things may be again for a while due to this structure.
You may first be wondering, where did those eight “open” cars go from last year and secondly, why isn’t anyone there to take what’s not being used?
Kaulig found a charter. JTG dropped theirs. So did Penske who doesn’t need a fourth car this year since Austin Cindric is now a Cup driver.
That’s three of the eight open cars gone. It leaves the Gaunt Brothers, Front Row, MBM and Beard.
We know MBM and Beard are both back but MBM scales back from two cars to one. That’s a fourth open car gone. I’ve not heard anything yet from Gaunt or FRR (3rd car) on coming back again for these respective teams.
I don’t think FRR would just magically show up with a third car without having planned yet for one and the Gaunt Brothers have been quiet. So, that’s half the open cars from last year gone and no one really there to take their place outside of Hezeberg and maybe the Money Team.
While that’s a storyline, it’s not huge in the sense that the entire grandstand seating (101,500) as well as all the infield is sold out. It’s not as big of a deal as one would think. People are still showing up and that’s a very good thing.