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Kentucky Sprint Cup race to be first with fewer than 43 cars in more than a decade

Jun 26, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

(Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway will likely mark the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race without a full 43-car field in more than a decade.

Unless NASCAR officials would allow a late entry, which appears unlikely at this point, only 42 cars/drivers — according to NASCAR statisticians — will take the green flag in Saturday night’s event on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Sparta, Kentucky, roughly 35 miles from downtown Cincinnati.

“The current 43-car field in the Sprint Cup Series has evolved over the years, yet it’s not necessarily a magic number,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said, according to SportingNews.com. “There are a variety of contributing factors that determine the size of the field, including the ebb and flow of the race teams. A field with less than the maximum is still very much a highly competitive field, and that’s what we’ll have this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.”

The last time there was a field less than the traditional 43 cars was the rescheduled Sprint Cup season finale on Nov. 23, 2001, at New Hampshire International Speedway (now known as New Hampshire Motor Speedway).

The race was originally scheduled for Sept. 16, 2001, but was postponed due to the 9/11 tragedy.

Robby Gordon won that event, his first career Sprint Cup victory, and the first of three in Gordon’s overall Cup career.

Ironically enough, Gordon was sponsored in that race by Lowe’s, which would move to Jimmie Johnson‘s team in 2002 – and the rest is NASCAR history.

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  1. manik56 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    Do I get 1/43rd of the cost of my ticket back??? All joking aside, I am surprised by this. If you entered the race you are guaranteed to make it. How bad are NASCAR purses? Why not throw Ty Dillon in a car if you are RC? Why not throw Chase Elliot in a car if you are Rick Hendrick? Why not throw Ryan Blaney in a car if you are Roger Penske? Is there really no financial incentive from NASCAR?

    • buckie16 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:13 AM

      Ha! That is what I rhetorically ask when they cut race lengths. When they go from 500 mi. to 400 mi., are ticket prices reduced by 1/5? I guess at KY, a relatively small market track, purse amounts are prolly low enough that “start & parking” is not a break even venture, otherwise someone would do it. Imo, S&P’ers have little, if any, impact on the race or it’s entertainment value. If we were talking about only 40 or 38 entrants, then we have serious issues. But occasionally being one S&P’er shy of a full docket is hardly a concern, imo.

  2. raynman49 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Going downhill fast. Too many rules.

    • buckie16 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:20 AM

      Rules are the nature of the beast …with any major form of racing. The cost making cars that complying to the rules is part of the problem. But it seems, enough teams have cars to fill the field. it’s just that purses at this venue are too low to make worth while for start & parkers. No big deal. It’s KY, pfft!

  3. camino409robert1026 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Try paving the track! It will beat the best car made apart. NASCAR has gone down so far that I am not going to make it a point to watch like I used to. If @ home & nothing else is on I may turn to it for a good nap!!!

  4. buckie16 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:45 AM

    Being one car short of 43 is not nearly as significant as poor spectator turn out at their events. The grandstands at most of the races this year appear half full. Thru most of the 80’s & 90’s every single race was sold out months in advance. The integrity of this form of racing has been undermined. Partially because the greed of Nascar (the France family), the International Speedway Corporation (the France family) and Speedway Motorsports, Inc (Bruton Smith). The latter two corporations own 21 of 26 venues the Cup series visits. Big teams & big money now dominate the sport, where it used to be run out of backyard garages at locally owned tracks. So imo the sport has lost much of it’s personality, rural sensibility & relevance. Inexplicably, Nascar has done nothing but consistently enable corporate processes. They have empowered such developments, there-by pushed away the less finically endowed suitors, with impunity. In this revised environment it is next to impossible for smaller budgeted teams to endure, let alone succeed. And that has been Nascar’s modus operandi for several decades. In doing, so they are guilty of deeply alienating their, once massive, fan base. They have moved away from many historically significant venues & into population centers like: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago & Miami. And prioritized marketing to minorities, by using such unsavory market tools as violent ex-convicts Curtis Jackson (aka: 50 cents) & Ray Lewis & implementation of their Driven for Diversity program. There-by fragmenting the “family friendly bbq” approach that was the source of their success. They are also guilty of favoring specific competitors. First via the aforementioned D4D program, in which they provide finical incentives to team that employ minorities. And by providing popular competitors other specific advantages which is clearly unsavory to a large amount of their fan base as well.

    • helpful55 - Jun 29, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Right on to all of that buckie16. You could have mentioned putting a woman driver that would never get a ride other than for her media and money factor. I am so sick of her being in my face all day.
      nascar is “evolving” this sport into something a lot of us don’t want. One of my peaves is the downforce insanity. I have no real interest in that expensive go kart racing, open wheel. I go to sleep watching open wheel racing unless it’s a road course. We are ending up with open wheel racing with the only difference being a “stock car” body on the chassis. We need to admit this is all counterproductive to good competition, everyone sees the lack of passing and the car in front being able to just stay there for long, long runs. How long are we going to allow this to continue and how far are we willing to let this progress. The drivers regularly talk about it, everyone knows it, it needs to be changed.
      Personally I’ve always wanted the field cut down to about 40, that’s plenty. About all the last 10 or so do is get in the way of the racing. 42 cars IS a sign of the escalating costs to field a car at all. All france had to do is call up one of his big team buddies and have them subsidize a couple more cars so the field will be a full 43. But they don’t care their idea is give us less and charge us more. And back to the mess that is nascar, france is on a path that is destroying what we know of nascar. He has no concept how to maintain what we have or doesn’t want to. He and we need to accept that we can never be as big as the big three sports. And I personally don’t want to, motorstports for all of it’s money and interest is still a type of sport all of its own and is not for everyone. But the way you make and keep enough fans is to involve and educate the fans. The idea of gimmicks like a chase and goofy qualifying is not the way to do it. Drop fox’s idea of big buildups of drama and non stories. The product is the racing not anything else. Let’s play that up and talk about the cars, drivers, teams, tracks and the racing.
      Until we the fans do something france and the puppeteers are going to destroy nascar stock car racing.

  5. theracefan - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    All incentive to “race” is gone. It is a forgone conclusion who will be in victory lane or the top 5 each week. Finishing races with only a handful of cars on the lead lap is not a race. Racing most of the race single file with little or no aggressive driving until the last few laps is not racing. The races are boring, too long and with out any action. The commentators always predict there will be bumping and rubbing but it never comes. They always say what an exciting race it is. They must be watching tapes of old races from the 70s. Not filling the field will happen more and more in the future

  6. mazblast - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    They can’t fill the fields, they can’t come anywhere close to filling the stands. The Kentucky race is only a few years old (the speedway magically got a race right AFTER its previous owners sold out to one of the major venue owners), and here they are on the radio today talking about how lots of tickets are available. This is an area ripe for auto racing (less than an hour from Cincinnati, maybe a bit over an hour from Louisville, an hour-plus from Lexington or Dayton, less than three hours from Columbus and Indy), but the current “product” is to racing what Velveeta is to cheese–bland, processed, pre-packaged, and BORING.

    In the words of a friend who went to the NASCAR events there until this year, “It’s not racing anymore. It’s 42 guys and a talentless woman driving around for 3 hours, all in the same cars, just different numbers and stickers on them.” As he also put it, “I see more aggressive driving on I-71 going home from the track.”

  7. sanddart - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    NASCAR NEEDS TO BRING BACK SATURDAY NITE RACING AS PER SAY. TRY RUNNING HEAT RACES TO QUALIFIY FOR A MAIN OF 150 LAPS WHERE THEY HAVE TO RACE NOT JUST RIDE AROUND UNTIL THEY HAVE 40 ORSO LAPS TO GO THEN IT GETS DOWN TO SERIUOS RACING MAYBE THAT WILL BRING BACKSOME FANS I WOULD BUT RIGHT NOW I TAPE THE RACES THEN FAST FORWARD TO THE END 50 LAPS.

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