By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR announced Wednesday some important new procedural changes for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, all designed to strengthen the quality of the race fields and add to the intensity of the racing on track.
The updates come at a time the sanctioning body – along with the series sponsors, teams and the broadcast partners – have seen a tangible increase in interest level and excitement for the two series.
There are strong fields filled with both established teams and newcomers ready and capable of making an impact. And NASCAR feels optimistic that these new updates will only be more beneficial.
“We’re really addressing three different updates here between the field size, the driver participation guidelines and looking at 2020 for Dash for Cash and Triple Truck Challenge,’’ said Meghan Miley, NASCAR’s senior director of Racing Operations. “The goal is always to make sure we are enhancing the competition. We are making sure we put our best foot forward for all of our stakeholders – the teams, the drivers, the tracks, the broadcasters, our OEMS, and NASCAR, of course.
“All these updates we make, we look at every year and say, ‘hey, what could we be doing better?’ This is the result of some of those things.’’
Among the key changes for the upcoming season – the race fields in the Xfinity Series will now feature a maximum of 36 cars. The first 31 positions will be based on qualifying times with four provisional positions allotted according to the rulebook and one past champion provisional.
Additionally, driver participation guidelines have been adjusted for both series. In both the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, drivers with more than three years of fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series experience will be allowed a maximum of five starts in each of the two series – Xfinity and Gander Trucks.
“With the driver participation guidelines, what a chance to highlight these young talents,’’ Miley said. “We’ve gotten feedback from all our stakeholders and from the fans, who say, ‘we want to see more of the regulars’ and then we talk to some of the drivers who say, ‘we want the opportunity to drive against these [Cup] guys because they’re the best and they make us better.
“So it’s more about finding that middle ground, what works for everybody but is great for us to highlight those series regulars.’’
A caveat to the participation outline is that drivers who elect to earn Monster Energy Series championship points are not eligible to compete in either the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash or the Gander Trucks’ Triple Truck Challenge, the regular season finale or the Playoffs.
Similarly, Xfinity Series regulars may not participate in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ annual Triple Truck Challenge or the championship race at ISM Raceway.
The 2020 Dash 4 Cash races will include stops at Texas Motor Speedway (March 28), Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 4), Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (April 25) and Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May 2). Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 21) will be the qualifier to set the Dash 4 Cash field for the opener at Texas.
The truck series’ Triple Truck Challenge will include races at Richmond (Va.) Raceway (April 18), Dover International Speedway (May 1) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 15). And, in an important caveat to the incentive program, the entry deadline requirement for the Triple Truck Challenge eligibility has been removed so the entire field will be vying for the bonus each week – a move NASCAR made to benefit both the teams and the fans.
That is the impetus for all the rule modifications. NASCAR is optimistic through this intrinsically collaborative approach that the competition will continue to reinvigorate naturally and the fan interest continues to rise and intensify.