The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is up this weekend. Once the checkered flag drops on Sunday, Speedweeks is next up for the World Center of Racing. Yes, NASCAR goes to LA for the Busch Light Clash next week, but even after that is a return to Speedweeks.
So, with where we sit, how many cars are on the entry-list?
All 36 chartered cars are obviously there. Two of them have open seats but both are likely tied to drivers.
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 Landon Cassill (Spire).
So, what about the open cars?
Beard Motorsports will have Noah Gragson again. MBM Motorsports announced their plans with Timmy Hill in the No. 66 Ford. That’s it so far.
That’s 38 cars.
All signs though are pointing to Team Hezeberg coming down to Daytona with Jacques Villeneuve in the No. 27 Ford. That’s entry 39.
MBM is now in the running to have JJ Yeley in a second car which would be 40. But, will it happen? What about NY Racing? What about the Money Team? Does Kaz Grala fit into those plans?
There’s a potential for four more open cars which would bring us to 42 cars. How many end up happening?
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. 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.
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.