Originally, NASCAR races had 43 car drivers compete during races. Since 2016, 40 drivers compete on the racetrack in NASCAR, with 36 spots as a guarantee to the charter teams. The remaining four spots are open to non-charter teams, who compete for those final race spots.
So, why did NASCAR cut down the number of cars from 43 to 40? What are the pros and cons of the charter system in NASCAR? Why did NASCAR decide on 36 guarantee charter teams in the first place to compete on race day?
Here is the complete breakdown of how many cars take place in a NASCAR race.
What is the Most Number of Cars in a NASCAR Race?
The most NASCAR race cars in a race were 82 in 1951. The competition was the 1951 Souther 500, and Herb Thomas won that competition.
How Many Cars are in the Daytona 500 Today?
With the new rule changes in 2016, there are 40 NASCAR cars at the Daytona International Speedway on race day. Out of the 40 vehicles, 36 of them come from charter teams. The other four spots are open to non-charter teams who compete for those final four spots to make it on the race track.
List of Racing Teams
There are 17 teams in the NASCAR Cup Series. These teams can compete in the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Infinity Series, and NASCAR Gander RV, & Outdoor Truck Series. Here are some of the teams below.
- Joe Gibbs Racing
- Hendrick Motorsports
- Stewart-Haas Racing
- Chip Ganassi Racing
- Front Row Motorsports
- Petty GMS Motorsports
- JR Motorsports
- JTG Daugherty
- Kaulig Racing
Can Racing Teams Have More than One Car?
Yes, teams like Hendrick Motorsports have more than one charter in their portfolio. The same goes with Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. However, these teams get only one guaranteed spot during the NASCAR Cup.
What Makes up a NASCAR Team?
NASCAR can have up to four cars on a team. Teams tend to use one manufacturer for their vehicle, and it is either Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota. Each car on a team has a different number and driver.
How Many Teams Can a NASCAR Owner Have?
Some NASCAR owners have one team, but some have more than that. However, the owners only get one guaranteed team in the 36 spots on race day.
Why Did the Rules Change in 2016?
The rule change from 43 cars to 40 was due to a few reasons. First, NASCAR began to standardize the size of the field, which helped produce the correct number of race teams that the track could have on racing day. Having 40 NASCAR drivers was the way for profitability and safety reasons.
Another reason for the group of 40 is to give every owner at least one guaranteed spot on the race. There are 36 charters in NASCAR, so every NASCAR team gets one of their cars in the race. The other four spots go to the fastest four qualifiers from non-charter teams. Allowing each owner to get one car on the race track also helps with lucrative sponsorships, which is essential for the owners via their financial investment.
Why 36 Charter Teams?
NASCAR spent years analyzing the sport and determined that 36 teams were committed to the sport’s long-term growth by trying to quality every week. Once the new rules began in 2016, the number 36 for charter teams took shape.
Another reason for 36 is that it is an even number, making it easy to place cars on the track.
What is the Charter System in NASCAR?
Think of the charter system like in the NFL, where there is a league, and then the owners own an individual team who competes to win the Super Bowl trophy each season. The charting team allows the owners to get one guaranteed starting place on the race track.
In addition to getting a guaranteed spot on the race track, the owners can also make revenue that the league creates each season. Giving each owner a guaranteed car racing spot helps incentive owners to invest more in their car, team, and equipment.
Why Would There Be Non-Charter Teams in NASCAR?
With the 2016 rule change, there are now 36 full-time franchises in NASCAR. There will be instances where a new team cannot buy a franchise but still want to race with that being the case.
For example, an owner who is not part of the charter system can still run a gamble on getting their stock car on the race track. Without being in the 36 charting system, there is no guarantee that they can race on game day, but if they qualify, they can. Besides having no guarantee of being able to race on game day, the payout structure is much less as a non-charter team than a charter team.
Essentially, you want to be part of the charter team system in NASCAR because it is a better investment for owners. However, if the owners cannot purchase into the system, they can still compete to make it on the NASCAR Cup Race track by getting into the final four spots.
Is the 40 Car Race System a Good Idea in NASCAR?
There are both pros and cons with the charting system in NASCAR. For the pros, it incentivizes owners, in theory, to invest in their team to win races. Putting more money into your team helps increase the competition, which is good for the sport since more fans will watch. Along with putting money into the sport, owners also get a slice of the pool money during races. Finally, owners can make more lucrative sponsorship deals with companies since they can guarantee their car will be out on the race track.
Another pro of the system is allowing non-charter teams to compete in cup races. If a driving team cannot purchase a charter team, they can still compete on races via qualifying with good race times. Allowing a non-charter team to compete in races expands the pool of drivers and gives these teams a chance to compete.
On the negative side, there is a concern that not everything is equal. Specific teams are worth more than others, and some don’t try as much as others to win. Another complaint about the guaranteed spot is that some popular teams won’t be able to race since there are only four open spots on the track outside of the 36 guaranteed places.
How Do They Select the Drivers for the NASCAR Cup Race?
There are 36 guaranteed spots open for the teams in NASCAR. There are only four spots left for drivers to compete for, which is open to the non-charter teams.
In theory, you can have more than four teams compete for those final spots to get put into the big race. These drivers compete for these last four spots at the Daytona International Speedway.
How Many Cars Compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series?
Initially, the NASCAR Xfinity Series races had 43 cars compete. During the 2019 season, the number of vehicles dropped to 36 and then went up to 40 during the 2020 season. There are fewer cars in this race than the NASCAR cup because they are on short tracks, which means fewer cars can compete.
How Many Trucks Compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series?
A total of 32 trucks compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Conclusion: How Many Cars are in a NASCAR Race?
NASCAR Cup Races allow 36 guaranteed racing spots to the charter team owners. The other four spots allow non-charter teams to compete for those spots. Before 2016, there were 43 cars in NASCAR races, but now that is number is less to keep the system financially strong with guaranteed racing placements for owners and sponsorship deals.