Cup Dominance Hurts Nationwide Series


NASCAR’s Nationwide Series needs to be fixed.  A lot of people in and out of the series probably do not believe that the series is broke but with Cup drivers and teams dominating race after race week after week, it is apparent to me that the series serves no purpose other than to boost the egos for Cup drivers while hoarding talent for the premiere teams in NASCAR.

NASCAR thought they could alleviate the situation of Cup drivers dominating in the series a couple years ago when they created a rule where a driver would designate what NASCAR series they would run full-time in.  The idea was that if a driver was not racing full-time for points, the issue of Cup drivers overrunning the series would go away or lessen.  That has not happened.

Cup drivers dominate the Nationwide races every single race.  Of the eight races ran thus far in 2013, two have been won by drivers who race solely in the Nationwide Series.  In 2012, 19 of the 33 races were won by Cup drivers.  In 2011, 28 of 34.  In 2010, 33 of 35.  Compare that to 1993 when 13 of 28 then Busch Series races were won by Cup drivers.

The problem of Cup drivers overrunning the series is exacerbated by the fact that most Cup drivers are driving for their Cup teams. Last season, Kyle Busch raced his own equipment yet failed to win in 22 starts.  Busch is back to racing in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment in 2013 and has won four of the eight races going into tonight’s event at Darlington.

It is obvious that the direct connection JGR plays a big role in Busch’s success and the same goes for all Nationwide drivers and teams who are owned by someone who also owns a Cup team.  Last year, Joey Logano won nine of the 22 Nationwide races he started for the same team Busch is with.

Keep in mind when drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant and Darrell Waltrip won in the Busch Series, it was in their own equipment or for someone else.  Things were much more even in that those drivers were racing small-time operations that were similar to their competition in the series.  The gap between the best and worst Busch Series teams in those days was much closer than today.

There are several solutions to the issue of Cup drivers and teams dominating in the Nationwide Series.  An easy solution would be to not give points to owners who start Cup drivers.  This would eliminate an owner’s chance to compete for the owner’s championship.  Why this idea wasn’t implemented several years ago is beyond me.

Another solution I think would be good for the series is to limit the number of races a Cup driver can compete in and also limit the number of Cup drivers that start a Nationwide race.  There is no need for half the field to be comprised of Cup talent.  Put a cap of five to seven for each category.

The third and final solution would be to severely decrease the payout for anyone who starts a Cup driver in the series.  There should be some encouragement for owners to give other drivers a chance whether it be young and up and coming talent or a driver who is looking to rebuild their career.

Developing talent is what the Nationwide Series is supposed to be about.  Unfortunately right now Cup owners and teams hog the fame, fortune and glory in the series.  NASCAR needs to make it more appealing for “smaller-time” drivers and teams to have a chance, otherwise why continue to have the series exist?

Tags: NASCAR Nationwide Series

  • Riley

    I couldn’t agree with this article more!

  • Patrick McDonald

    There is an easy way to fix it. Let new drivers develop in the series and make a rule that the cup drivers have to be retired drivers and will drive part time with a limit. Love to see Ward Burton, Sterling Marlin, Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett in a few races. There presence would help bring in the crowd.

  • http://twitter.com/AJBombersports Adam Johnson TBTV

    I adore this article! If I see Kyle Busch on the entry list for a Nationwide race this year, I don’t bother watching the race. It’s that simple. Because he WILL win it. Everyone says people will watch the NNS races BECAUSE of the Cup ringers, but if they keep dominating it will keep pushing them away.

    Simple rule: The only Cup ringers allowed are retired drivers as Patrick McDonald said, part-timers in Cup (so Vickers would be okay this season), and rookie Cup drivers. So Danica and Stenhouse could run full-time in both this season, but next year when they’re no longer rookies in Cup, they’d be out of NNS.

    The fact is this: NNS and Trucks are for young drivers to prove themselves. Cup drivers have already proven themselves – thats why they are in Cup rides. Why do they race in the lower divisions? Egos? Sponsors? It’s wrong and has to stop. The best NNS race of the year was Talladega, where despite the best efforts of Cup ringers Regan Smith (A full-time Nationwide driver) won.