The sanctioning body has announced a significant change for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. The field will now feature 38 stock cars instead of 36 as in previous years that featured qualifying sessions.
NASCAR provided the update on Monday, January 31, and confirmed the change. 33 of the drivers will secure their spot in the race by virtue of their qualifying times. There will also be five provisionals to help set the field. One provisional will go to the defending Xfinity Series champion in Daniel Hemric.
While the Xfinity Series field will increase in size, two other series will remain the same. NASCAR confirmed that the Camping World Truck Series field will continue to feature 36 entries. The Cup Series will also remain at 40 entries — 36 for teams with charters and four for open entries.
NASCAR Temporarily Increased the Field in 2020 & 2021
While the Xfinity Series field was technically limited at 36, there were several races that featured 40 drivers due to a temporary change. NASCAR expanded the field in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
The sanctioning body issued an announcement on May 11, 2020. NASCAR stated that the Xfinity Series and Truck Series events without qualifying would feature 40 entries each. The goal was to avoid punishing part-time or new teams that would not otherwise have the opportunity to qualify for each event on the schedule.
“This move is critical for the long-term health of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, in a statement. “There are many new full-time and part-time team owners who have made significant commitments to our sport and secured sponsorship to participate this season. NASCAR wants to enable these teams to fulfill their commitments and grow their businesses without being affected by circumstances out of their control.”
The stated plan in 2020 was to return to the previous field limits once restrictions began to lift and qualifying sessions returned. This did not take place in 2021 as the majority of races relied on the starting order formula to set the grid, but all of the 2022 races will feature both practice and qualifying.
NASCAR Set the Dash 4 Cash Races
One other major update from NASCAR was the return of the Dash 4 Cash series for the 14th season. The four-race event that awards $100,000 to one of four eligible drivers each week will take place following a qualifying race. The drivers will compete in the Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of the Americas and fight to become eligible for the bonus money.
The first race of the Dash 4 Cash program will be the trip to Richmond Raceway on April 2. The other three races take place on April 8 race at Martinsville Speedway (FS1), April 23 at Talladega Superspeedway (FOX), and April 30 at Dover Motor Speedway (FS1).
JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson enjoyed a dominant run during the 2021 Dash 4 Cash program. He won the first three events — Martinsville, Talladega, and Darlington — to lock up $300,000 total in prize money. Though his third win featured some extra discussions.
NASCAR officials originally disqualified the No. 9 for failing post-race inspection, but JR Motorsports appealed the decision. Appeals officer Roger Werner heard and considered the team’s case before ultimately rescinding the penalties and restoring Gragson’s fourth-place finish in the Xfinity Series race, as well as his third Dash 4 Cash win.
Following the appeal, Gragson joined Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, and Brandon Jones as the eligible drivers for the final Dash 4 Cash prize. He was unable to complete the season sweep, however, as Berry took second place behind Austin Cindric and won his first $100,000 prize.