NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Questions Arise About Kansas Field Size

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Kansas City, Kansas is the site for the next race for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. While qualifying is always important, every driver will have a sense of comfort, as they will all make the Digital Ally 250 on Friday, May 10. Currently, only 27 drivers are entered for the race, five short of a full field.

With this low-count Truck Series field, especially when the companion event, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, will have a full field, questions arise about the series as it pertains to field size.

Six drivers failed to qualify for the TruNorth Global 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Why then is there an 11-entry difference between that race and Kansas?

For one, the track size. Martinsville is 0.526 miles whereas Kansas is one-and-a-half miles. Under NASCAR rules, drivers have to be at least 18 years old to compete on tracks larger than one mile. Therefore, young drivers cannot compete at Kansas. Prospect Derek Kraus competed at Martinsville, but because he is 17 years old, he cannot compete at Kansas Speedway. Kraus’ team, Bill McNally Racing, will not field an entry for Kansas.

Recently, three teams have opted not to compete full time, at least two of them due to lack of sponsorship. Cory Roper and Roper Racing didn’t compete in the JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway, and they aren’t entering their No. 04 Ford this Friday.

Without a sponsor, On Point Motorsports decided to skip Kansas. As a result, driver Brennan Poole will not compete full-time, a second driver forfeiting his playoff eligibility. Lastly, Korbin Forrister and All Out Motorsports also withdrew from the race. While no reason was listed, Forrister had attempted all the races this season. If he does not compete, he, too, forfeits his playoff eligibility.

So why are teams dropping from full-time competition like a sack of potatoes? That’s the great debate. On Twitter, former Truck Series owner DJ Copp shared his respective thoughts.

Copp blamed the high cost of the NT1 engine for forcing teams out of NASCAR. Interestingly, the NT1 engine was supposed to reduce costs for the Truck Series teams.

When someone noted the NT1 engine is intended to help long-term, Copp responded with this.

It is worth noting the team Copp owned, Copp Motorsports, no longer competes in the Truck Series. Nonetheless, the responses yielded several people desiring schedule changes. NASCAR made some changes to the Truck Series schedule for next season, but that’s in the future, not the present, like Copp suggested.

Current Truck Series owner-driver Josh Reaume added his thoughts on the Truck Series field size.

https://twitter.com/joshreaume/status/1126234533391679489

NASCAR no longer releases the purses, so we, including the media and the public, don’t know what teams receive for each race. From the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina to Kansas Speedway is a 16-hour drive. That costs teams gas, lodging, food and time.

If the purse for Kansas isn’t large enough for smaller teams, such as Roper Racing, On Point Motorsports and All Out Motorsports, then it is financially smarter for them to save money by not racing. None of the drivers from those three teams have won a race before. So if the teams aren’t certain their driver has a chance to win, why waste the time, money, etc.?

It’s an ongoing battle in NASCAR to keep the costs down. Owner-driver Jordan Anderson runs his team full time, and he has credited the NT1 engine for reducing his costs. He also forged an alliance with GMS Racing before the season, so he is receiving help from a top team.

Still, Reaume has fielded a full-time team, Reaume Brothers Racing, since 2018, and the team has expanded to a part-time second team this season. Josh Bilicki will drive the second truck at Kansas.

While there are only 27 entered drivers for Kansas, there is still talent in the field. Brandon Jones will again drive the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, and he is seeking his first NASCAR victory. KBM will field a fourth entry for the race, the No. 46 Toyota, driven by Riley Herbst.

Only two Truck Series regulars have won races this season. Both Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter probably already clinched their respective playoff berths, but both drivers want more playoff points to make a run to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the rest of the full-time drivers, a win virtually guarantees them a playoff berth. All four ThorSport Racing drivers have shown speed this season, so will Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton or Grant Enfinger give the team back-to-back victories?

Regular KBM drivers Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland are chasing their first wins as well, so the organization as a whole will be hungry for victory.

Even if NASCAR finds solutions to help increase Truck Series field sizes, those answers won’t help overnight. Teams are already prepping their trucks for the following race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Purse sizes most likely were determined before the season began. Even if NASCAR lowered costs for teams, would companies come onboard to sponsor teams? Because of those reasons, Truck Series fields at large tracks, such as at Texas Motor Speedway in June, will likely continue to not be full.

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David Edwards

And how many actual teams are competing? Sounds like its a handful of multi-truck teams making up the field.

Mark Freeman

They failed to mention MB Motorsports or Mike Mittler. This race was always on our schedule, but as many know and some may not Mike is battling cancer and Nascar has takin a back seat to his health.

Andy DeLay

The current prospects of rich daddy’s boys seems to be thinning out. The fact that NASCAR teams court rich CEO’s kids with the promise of making them NASCAR stars, especially in the truck series, is one of the problems. The fact that a kid coming from lots of money, but questionable experience being able to come in and run KBM equipment which we all know is the best in the truck series is crazy. NASCAR need to only look at how baseball funds their minor leagues to understand how to fund their feeder series. Until NASCAR figures this out and gets mediocre rich kids off the track the sport in genreal will suffer.

Jill P

Look at how thin the K & N and ARCA fields are. They make a big deal out of someone getting a top ten finish, when actually it’s a bottom ten finish.

JT

Two organizations: KBM and ThorSport (each with 4 teams) combined will make up just slightly less than 1/3rd of the entire Truck field at Kansas. These organizations, along with GMS (2 teams) are the ones receiving either direct factory support and/or have partnerships with large Cup organizations. They are the teams with access to wind tunnel time, pull-down rigs, simulators and the better over-the-way pit crew members. So even with the spec engine, the other other 17 teams might as well be starting Kansas a lap down. Based on these facts, it is little wonder that the Truck Series fields are not full.

The Truck Series needs to give up on speedways like Daytona, Texas and Kansas and run short tracks like South Boston, Myrtle Beach and New Smyrna (this is why Martinsville had a big truck count). The shorter the track, the less important aero is and the shorter tracks mean shorter races with fewer pit stops. At the stage breaks, go back to the original Truck Series concept of holding positions while pitting, which would negate the need for expensive over-the-wall pit aces.

NASCAR, please save this series!

kuku

29 now that the 0 and 1 are going to race.

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