France: Sprint Cup won't reduce starting field next season

Updated: October 23, 2008, 4:10 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

NASCAR chairman Brian France said Thursday that the sanctioning body will not decrease the size of the starting field next season for Sprint Cup series races.

France was asked about recent speculation that NASCAR might reduce the field from 43 cars to 36 cars in 2009 because of difficult economic conditions.

"No, that's not at all in the plan," France said on a conference call. "We've had many events where we've sent cars home this year [when more than 43 cars show up to qualify].

"It was only a year ago when people were saying we had too many sponsored cars for the field. This is a cyclical thing," he said.

Car counts are down this year for all three NASCAR touring series -- Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series, which announced on Thursday a new series sponsor for next year in Camping World.

Several Cup teams are struggling to find primary sponsors for next year, which could mean a reduced number of entries in 2009. But France believes NASCAR won't have a problem filling a 43-car field at each Cup race.

"Most teams are well-funded," France said. "Some aren't, as always is the case. But some of those are not necessarily from the economy. Some of it is performance.

"Is it tighter [financially] for teams? Sure, but NASCAR has been though other times when the economy was difficult," he said.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter