The start of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is inching closer, but the entry list for the season-opening Daytona 500 seems to be stuck at 39 cars, three of which without charters.
The field size for the 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Daytona International Speedway oval is capped at 40, and there are expected to be at least two more non-chartered entries added. This would ensure that somebody ends up failing to secure a starting spot either via the single-car qualifying session or the Bluegreen Vacations Duels.
A.J. Allmendinger was recently added to the entry list when Kaulig Racing confirmed him as the driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet for the "Great American Race". But because the No. 16 Chevrolet is one of the 36 charter entries, it was already on the entry list (and locked into the race).
Of the other 35 charter entries, 34 are set to be driven by full-time drivers. The other one is Rick Ware Racing's second entry (either the No. 15 Ford or the No. 51 Ford, depending on which is driven full-time by Justin Haley).
That car does not yet have a confirmed Daytona 500 driver.
So while there are 39 confirmed Daytona 500 entries thus far, only 38 have confirmed drivers. And while a vacancy at Rick Ware Racing may not seem like a big deal, it is for two reasons.
First of all, with the car being a charter car, it is locked into the race, meaning that whoever ends up driving it will not have to go through the stress of simply securing a starting spot in single-car qualifying session and/or the Bluegreen Vacations Duels.
And secondly, although Rick Ware Racing may very well be the slowest team in the garage, the Daytona 500 is largely a "wild card" race that anybody can win. By nature, superspeedway racing is somewhat of an equalizer, and we have seen Rick Ware Racing fare well at Daytona in the past, most notably with David Ragan finishing in fourth place in the 2020 Daytona 500.
As for the rest of the entry list, all three confirmed non-chartered entries have confirmed drivers. Ragan is set to drive the No. 60 Ford for RFK Racing, Anthony Alfredo is set to drive the No. 62 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports, and B.J. McLeod is set to drive the No. 78 Chevrolet for Live Fast Motorsports.
As for the two rumored additions, Jimmie Johnson is expected to drive the No. 84 Toyota for Legacy Motor Club for a second straight year, and The Money Team Racing are expected to field the No. 50 Chevrolet for a third straight year. Other teams adding entries is not out of the question; these are just the two most likely.
Single-car qualifying is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 14, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 15. Fox is set to broadcast the 66th annual Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 18. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!