By admin | April 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
Apparently, Sprint Cup drivers like Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and others had nothing better to do on their off weekend than go attempt to dominate a race in NASCAR’s second series. With that said, one has to wonder if any Nationwide Series regular will win even a single time in 2011.
After hearing complaints from media and a significant number of fans about Sprint Cup drivers invading the lower series races, NASCAR pretended to fix the problem by instituting a rule that every driver had to declare the one series in which they planned to compete for a championship. Drivers are not awarded points when they run in another series.
However, when NASCAR made each driver declare his series, they left a loophole to lure Sprint Cup regulars to enter Nationwide races anyway when they said that owners of cars driven by the top level competitors would still be eligible for the owners championship.
Somehow, NASCAR seemed to think media and fans would not notice that Sprint Cup drivers were winning every race as long as a Nationwide Series regular was atop the standings. The system as it is now is ridiculous.
A quick scan through the Nationwide standings reveals that no driver anywhere on the list has won a single race. Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, lead the series with one and two top-5 finishes respectively out of eight starts. Those statistics reveal just how hollow the series standings really are.
NASCAR could have limited the number of starts any driver inside the Sprint Cup top-35 could make. Had they done that, it could have worked out well for everyone. There would be a few Cup drivers in each event as each driver would chose different races in which to participate. There would be fewer Cup drivers in each race which would give Nationwide regulars a better chance of winning. And, track promoters would still be able to advertise that Cup drivers would be on hand.
Or even better, NASCAR could have scheduled more stand alone events for the series. This past Saturday’s race in Nashville was the eighth of the season but the first not run as a companion event on a Sprint Cup weekend. Fully, 27 of the 34 Nationwide races serve as companion races. No wonder the nickname ‘Sprint Cup Lite’ has taken hold.
If enough races were scheduled with the two series’ separate from each other then not only could the Nationwide Series develop a separate identity but Sprint Cup drivers and owners would tire of the travel and potentially missed Sprint Cup practice sessions, sponsor related appearances and other obligations.
For those who would argue that Sprint Cup stars are necessary to boost attendance, all anyone has to do is look at the number of empty seats last week in Nashville with Edwards, Busch and Keselowski on hand.
The bottom line is that NASCAR has not succeeded in providing the Nationwide Series its own identity by awarding a hollow championship trophy. What purpose will it serve to call someone with no wins and very few top-5s a champion when that driver would in reality have placed 6th or 7th under the old system?
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