By admin | May 17, 2008
By Richard Allen
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was recently asked if he would ever consider moving his JR Motorsports team from the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup Series.
â€œI used to say no way, no wayâ€œ, Junior said. â€œBut itâ€™s almost as expensive to run in the Nationwide Series. And theyâ€™re going to bring a CoT in and we wonâ€™t be able to race in the Nationwide Series with the CoT probably. Thatâ€™ll just be too expensive to switch all that over.â€
This comment got some attention but for the wrong reason.
Many immediately focused on the possibility of Earnhardt following in his late fatherâ€™s footsteps by running a Sprint Cup team while at the same time driving for another team. The real issue is not the fact that Junior may move his team up to the Cup level but rather that he would move his team out of the Nationwide Series.
NASCAR should be concerned that its Nationwide Series could be on the brink of collapse. The series is already having a hard time filling fields. The expense of forcing teams to switch to some version of the Car of Tomorrow could force a number of teams out of business. And more, if Junior, with all his ability to land sponsors, canâ€™t afford the change over then who can?
The Nationwide Series is already too much like a Sprint Cup Light tour. The Cup teams and drivers completely dominate the circuit as it is. Nationwide â€˜regularsâ€™ have essentially been eliminated as a viable force. They mostly serve as field fillers for the Cup teams and drivers except for the very few races each year in which the Cup Series is too far away to allow very many drivers to do double duty.
NASCAR needs to seriously consider what they want from this series. They should carefully consider any changes that might force teams out of the series. They should be looking for more ways to include more non Cup teams.
I have been a proponent of the Car of Tomorrow for the most part. I do not care for the fact that NASCAR hands out so many parts but that is a story for another day. The safety aspects of the car are important and necessary. I also believe the car will ultimately provide better competition than the old car. However, if the expense is so great that it would cause the Nationwide Series to conduct races with only 20-25 cars then it needs to be carefully thought out.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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