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With just 40 entries for Sunday’s 60th Daytona 500, all 40 positions in the starting lineup are essentially filled. The only thing Thursday night’s Can-Am Duels will determine is the way the cars line up.
To 2014 NASCAR Cup champion Kevin Harvick, he believes the only teams that should start the Daytona 500 – or any other NASCAR race – are teams that own NASCAR Charters.
“Don’t even get me started on all that,” Harvick said in response to a question from Autoweek when told everybody is guaranteed a starting position for Sunday’s biggest NASCAR race of the season. “I look at the 36 charters and I just wonder why we have 40 cars.
“I think it should just be 36 charters.”
The charter system was created before the 2016 NASCAR season to guarantee the top 36 teams that met the criteria guaranteed starting positions. Instead of racing for prize money, NASCAR paid teams through the charter system by redistributing money rather than through the prize fund.
That is why race results no longer show what the winner of the race received.
It also guarantees the sponsors with these teams the security that they will be in every race of the season.
In order to maintain some level of open competition, NASCAR added four open spots to each race grid for teams that are not full time or own charters to still qualifying into the lineup, but without prize money those teams are on the verge of extinction.
Without new teams attempting to join the Monster Energy Cup Series, it stunts the growth of this division. This is the first time in Daytona 500 history the entry list was the same as the number of positions on the grid.
Other drivers in the series understand Harvick’s position supporting a “Charters only” system.
“I’m not really sure I understand the initiatives behind the Charters to really speak about it articulately, but what I do know is it doesn’t seem to add up,” 2013 NASCAR Cup Champion Brad Keselowski said. “It doesn’t seem to connect, especially when we come here for SpeedWeeks. Some people think it’s good and some people think it’s bad.
“You don’t get those ‘Underdog’ stories out of the Duels like we used to but on the top end this makes a lot more sense because it’s hard to tell an eight-figure sponsor you are not locked into the race.”
Kyle Bush, the 2016 NASCAR Cup champion, doesn’t agree with Harvick’s premise at all.
“Why not the other four?” Busch asked.
When told Harvick said the numbers don’t make sense, Busch said, “Who cares?
“That doesn’t make sense to me at all,” Busch continued. “It gives somebody an entry way or path to have the opportunity to come into the Cup Series. This would deny that. I don’t agree with that at all.”