The NASCAR Xfinity Series will feature two fewer cars next season.
PHOTO BY JEFF ZELEVANSKY | GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR
The sanctioning body has also revealed owner championship changes
BY: MATT WEAVER
NASCAR has decided to limit the Xfinity Series field to 38 cars in 2019.
That was the most notable story to come out of a procedural update on Thursday morning. The series has fielded 40-car fields since 2013 and featured 43 for much of the previous decade.
“This rule came about in collaboration with the teams, drivers and tracks,” John Bobo, vice president of racing operations for NASCAR, said during a Thursday teleconference. “We want to provide the fans with the strongest competition, and we think this strengthens fields from the front to the back.”
The purse money from the two eliminated starting positions will be redistributed among the remaining 38 entrants. In addition to shorter fields, the complexion of the field will consist of 33 starting positions based on time trials, four provisional positions according to the rule book and one past champion’s provisional.
Purse money that previously was awarded to the 39th and 40th finishers will be redistributed through the field. There have been no fewer than 40 teams attempt to qualify for all 22 Xfinity Series races this season and more than 40 have tried to make the show for 10 events.
NASCAR also detailed changes to the way it will award championship owner points in both the Xfinity Series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019.
In the Xfinity Series, team owners will only earn playoff points if the driver earns points in either the Xfinity or Truck Series. Additionally, a race win or wins will only count toward owner championship playoff eligibility if the driver earns points in those two tours.
The decision was made to encourage team owners to use series regulars — or, more specifically, non-Cup Series drivers — throughout the campaign.
“It’s important to know that we didn’t discourage that the other way,” Bobo said. “We want teams and owners to hire drivers from lower series and give them an opportunity in the higher series. …
“When we got our driver participation rules this last season, I think we felt it was a pretty good mix, but we continue to look at that and creating the type of balance that we need, so we’re really curious to see how this rule impacts that, and we’ll be really curious to see what it does. But we also think that it presents something really important, which is as we go into the playoffs, we don’t want an Xfinity team owner or a Truck team owner to hire Cup drivers to come in and win them additional points for the playoffs.”
NASCAR has not yet announced the number of races allowed or other restrictions Cup Series drivers will face in the Xfinity and Truck Series next season. This year, Cup drivers with more than five years of experience will be limited to seven races in Xfinity. Drivers with the same experience level are restricted to five races per season in the Trucks Series.
The regular-season finale and playoff events for both tours are also off limits for any driver earning Cup Series championship points.
The Dash 4 Cash program will also return next season. Texas Motor Speedway will host the qualifying race on March 30. The opening event will once again be held at Bristol Motor Speedway, with remaining stops at Richmond Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway.