NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Sees Short Field Of Entries For First Time Since '01
There were "only 42 cars to start" Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400, the first time since the '01 New Hampshire Motor Speedway race "was moved because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. However, NASCAR "doesn't believe a smaller field is an indictment of the sport's health." NASCAR Senior Dir of Communications for Competition Kerry Tharp said, "I don't think there's any magic to that (43) number. We feel really good about how the competition is and how the sport is progressing. I think it's on an upward swing." Drivers on Friday said that they are "not worried about the short field." Jimmie Johnson said, "I don't think it has any bearing on the strength of our sport. When I look at all the markers our sponsors look at and why they're partners on our race car, things are going in the right direction." Gluck noted the 42 entries are "a far cry from the mid-2000s, when NASCAR regularly sent a half-dozen cars home on a weekly basis." That number "peaked at the 2007 Daytona 500, when 61 cars showed up." NASCAR has been "flirting with a short field for more than a year." Jeff Gordon said, "We don't need 43 cars out there to put on a great race, so I'm not really that focused on it" (USATODAY.com, 6/27). In Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote, "I fail to see why it is so important Saturday night's field won't have a 43rd car entered that will likely not complete the race or may even start-and-park." Either option "adds nothing to the quality of racing for fans at the track or watching on TV." Utter: "I would much rather see smaller fields of more competitive cars than larger fields with only half the cars able to contend for the win" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/28).