Today when the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway starts, only 40 cars will take the green flag, three short of a full field.
The last time the Nationwide Series had a short field was at California in 2008, when only 42 cars made the trip west. But this is the shortest field since 2001 at Watkins Glen.
Why? Well, it certainly looks like the new car is playing a heavy role. As evidenced by the abundance of start-and-parks, there aren't many non-Cup affiliated Nationwide teams with deep pockets. Add in an economy that puts sponsorship at a premium, and it's a recipe for what's going on at Phoenix. (Not to mention that sponsorship could potentially cost more because of the increased costs of transitioning to the new car)
And maybe it's why we've seen an increase of entries in the Camping World Truck Series over the first two races of the season despite the smaller purses. While a full field in the Truck Series is 36 -- and the second Nashville race last year had only 35 entered -- 44 trucks entered the season-opening race at Daytona and 41 trucks attempted to qualify for Friday night's race at Phoenix. (James Buescher, the driver who led the most laps in the Daytona race, failed to qualify for Phoenix)