NASCAR: Limiting Cup Drivers In Xfinity Is Easier Than You Think

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Does anyone else think that the Xfinity Series is at a point in its history where it is struggling to find an identity? Well, it is and it’s time for NASCAR to make a change.

Sure, well-edited commercials with goosebump-inducing voice acting tell us that names are made here, but how much does that statement really hold true in a series where Cup regulars dominate on almost a weekly basis and leave the Xfinity drivers without much more than a good points day?

Not only does this leave the Xfinity Series without a true identity, unless of course you want to consider the races to be the equivalent of a glorified Sprint Cup practice session, it also is hurting the next generation of drivers that want to make a name for themselves. Furthermore, the current problems with the Xfinity Series almost make the series unwatchable.

I love seeing Kyle Busch dominate a race, but not against 39 other drivers where maybe three of them are on his level.

With that being said, what would even be the solution to the wide array of problems facing the lower tier series? Of course NASCAR could eliminate Cup drivers from Xfinity races altogether, but doing that would give some fans less of a reason to watch the Xfinity Series and would also hurt smaller teams whose only chance at a primary sponsor is if a Cup driver is behind the wheel.

So, where does that leave us? It’s certainly an interesting problem and one that warrants a well thought out solution by NASCAR. If not, The Xfinity Series would be at risk of losing what little identity it has left and could also take an even bigger hit in its already lackluster viewership.  The wrong move by NASCAR could also anger the fan base more than the caution clock did.

Jun 11, 2016; Brooklyn, MI, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Daniel Suarez (19) reacts after winning the Menards 250 Presented By Valvoline at Michigan International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Brooklyn, MI, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Daniel Suarez (19) reacts after winning the Menards 250 Presented By Valvoline at Michigan International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

While eliminating Cup drivers completely from competition is definitely not an option, Cup drivers could be given an ultimatum that would possibly limit their participation in Xfinity Series races. Not only that, NASCAR could revamp the Xfinity Series completely and make the ultimatum apart of a new format for the lower tier series

For example, what if Cup drivers and Xfinity drivers were scheduled to race on the same day? Of course this wouldn’t be the case every week, especially when the Cup Series and Xfinity Series are at different venues, but it could possibly help viewership if the two races were to take place back-to-back. It would also limit the number of Cup drivers that would want to pull double-duty.

As for when the races are taking place at different venues, NASCAR could simply try to cut a deal with Fox Sports and Fox Sports One to broadcast the races back-to-back, but the Xfinity Series would either have to be broadcast after the Cup race, especially when the two series are in two different time zones, or just be shortened to fit into a smaller time frame.

Sure, this idea isn’t perfect and it would definitely take some ironing out before it could ever be presented as plausible, but it does help solve both problems that the series is having. It’s no secret that the back-to-back races would force some drivers to rethink pulling double-duty that week, but it would also be a way to give the Xfinity Series drivers a slight advantage as well.

Finally, there’s the potential of increased viewership for the Xfinity Series. Not only would having the Xfinity Series race on the same channel cause fans to watch the closing moments of the Xfinity race, it also would give them time to get familiar with the new crop of talent that will one day be racing in NASCAR’s top series. Although everyone won’t become a lifetime viewer after a few minutes of Xfinity Series racing, it does put the product in front of a wider variety of eyes.

In the end, the idea would force the Xfinity Series to sacrifice a bit of its current independent identity and be considered the Sprint Cup Series’ warmup race, but the benefits of doing this would vastly outweighs this negative aspects.  It helps the Xfinity Series get the added exposure that it needs right now and it also forces the Cup drivers to to make a choice about when they pull double-duty.

must read: Predicting The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid

Let’s be honest, seeing Kyle Busch win two races in the same day, hours apart, is a lot more impressive than winning on separate days.

Whether this is something that NASCAR would consider doing or not remains to be seen. However, with the massive ratings boost this could give the Xfinity Series and the possibility of cutting down on Cup Series drivers racing in the Xfinity Series, it is definitely something that NASCAR Officials need to look into.