By admin | July 15, 2009
By Richard Allen
Seriously, what is the point of having the Nationwide Series?
Every race run in the Nationwide Series this season with the exception of the rain shortened event in Charlotte has been won by a Sprint Cup driver driving for a Sprint Cup team or a team with strong Sprint Cup affiliation. Only Mike Bliss, who had just enough fuel in his tank to coast to the rain at the Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway, has been able to beat the Cup guys in a Nationwide race.
When I first started planning for this column I originally considered counted Brad Keselowski as Nationwide regular. But, he has won a Sprint Cup race this season and he essentially drives for Hendrick Motorsports. To count him among the smaller teams with budgets less than half of that his team has seemed a bit out of sorts. If he is not included among the Nationwide regulars, the statistics sway even further in favor of the drivers from the top series.
All the Nationwide Series serves to do now is provide a warm-up for the Sprint Cup race of the next day.
In this past weekendâ€™s Nationwide race in Chicago, Sprint Cup drivers claimed seven of the top-10 finishing positions. The previous week in Daytona was even worse as Sprint Cup drivers captured nine top-10 spots. As a matter of fact it is virtually a certainty that Sprint Cup regulars will take at least seven top-10 finishing positions in any Nationwide Series race that is run as a weekend companion to a Sprint Cup event.
Once upon a time this series was more than just a filler event to be run the day before a Sprint Cup race. The series had numerous stand alone races run on tracks the bigger series did not go to. Now, only nine races are run on tracks not shared with the Sprint Cup Series.
This week in St. Louis serves as one of those rare occasions in which the series will break free from its big brother. And with the big league drivers taking advantage of their last week off before a long stretch run to the finish, the Nationwide regulars may actually have a chance to shine.
But when I say shine, I actually mean they will not be totally rooted out of the top-10. The likes of Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch will still show up as they chase the equivalent of a minor league championship. And, one of them or one of their Sprint Cup counterparts who decides to join them will win barring an unforeseen happening like the one that occurred in Charlotte earlier this year.
The Nationwide Series has ceased to function as a stand alone series. It merely serves as an extra practice session for Sprint Cup drivers and teams. For that reason and because the results are a foregone conclusion, I half jokingly, half seriously say NASCAR would be just as well off to cancel the rest of the season in this series.
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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