NASCAR: Will this be the norm for the 2022 season?

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

The NASCAR Cup Series ran its first race with only 36 cars since July 2019 this past Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. Will this become a theme in 2022?

The second race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season took place on Sunday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway, which hadn’t hosted a Cup Series race since March 2020.

In 2020, the four-turn, 2.0-mile (3.219-kilometer) oval in Fontana, California hosted the penultimate race prior to the unexpected 10-week hiatus caused by COVID-19-related restrictions.

Also. Danica Patrick's worst crash. light

In 2021, ongoing restrictions led it to being removed from the calendar, making the 2021 season the first season without a Cup Series race at the venue since the track opened in 1997.

But while Sunday’s 200-lap WISE Power 400 happened as planned, it featured only 36 cars.

This made it the first race since the July 2019 race at Kentucky Speedway in which only chartered entries and no non-chartered entries competed. Prior to Sunday’s race, 90 consecutive races had featured at least 37 cars.

Will this be the norm for the 2022 season?

That’s the direction in which things are pointing. There were always concerns about potential supply shortages entering the 2022 season, especially amid the launch of the Next Gen car, and the effects of those shortages have undoubtedly been felt throughout the garage already.

There were even doubts that the Daytona 500 would see a full 40-car field. The first 63 Daytona 500s featured at least 40 cars, and no race at Daytona International Speedway had featured fewer than 40 cars since July 1968. Fortunately, a few late entries led to a 42-car entry list, leaving two cars on the outside looking in once the field was set.

Of the six non-chartered entries that attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500, none are confirmed for more than six additional races on this year’s schedule.

The #27 Team Hezeberg Ford is set to return for the six road course races, with Loris Hezemans behind the wheel, and the #44 NY Racing Team Chevrolet is only currently confirmed for this Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with Greg Biffle again behind the wheel.

The #50 The Money Team Racing Chevrolet is set to return at Circuit of the Americas in late March with Kaz Grala behind the wheel, and the #62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet is confirmed for the three remaining superspeedway races, including two at Talladega Superspeedway and one at Daytona International Speedway.

The two MBM Motorsports entries, both of which failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, are also set to return. J.J. Yeley is set to drive the #55 Ford at Talladega Superspeedway in late April. Boris Said is set to drive the #66 Ford, though the tracks have not yet been determined. Timmy Hill will likely drive the car in select races as well.

But at the end of the day, it looks as though a 36-car field featuring only the chartered entries will be the most common field throughout the remainder of the 36-race season.

Next. Top 25 NASCAR drivers of all-time. dark

The third race on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Pennzoil 400, which is set to be broadcast live from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Fox beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6. A total of 37 cars are set to compete in this race, with the #44 Chevrolet being the only non-chartered entry. Start your free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!