Sprint Cup Drivers, Kyle Larson beat Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch back to the checkers on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in one of the best ten lap races for the win, on an oval, in recent history.
Larson is not running for a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Nor are Harvick, Busch or Joey Logano, who finished fourth. Matt Kenseth finished seventh to give Sprint Cup regulars half of the top ten finishes. Only David Ragan and Josh Wise, who run for under-funded Cup teams, finished outside of the top ten.
I don’t like Cup regulars running in the Nationwide Series on a regular basis; but watching the finish of that race was as exciting as it gets, regardless of who was driving.
So the question becomes not who is driving what car in the Nationwide Series but is the product exciting to watch. Could Ty Dillion, Trevor Bayne and Chase Elliott have put together as entertaining of a finish as three Cup drivers? Look at the stand-alone Nationwide races for a clue. Last year’s races at Mid Ohio, Iowa Speedway and Road America were, again, some of the best races of the year without help from a slew of Cup drivers.
And don’t throw the; “Promoters need the Cup guys to get fans in the stands” argument out there. Did you see the “crowd” at ACS for that race? It was almost non-existent with the help of seven Cup drivers. I doubt it would have been much different if they weren’t there.
Here is my solution to this multi-facetted problem. Allow Cup rookie and sophomore drivers unlimited starts in the other two national touring series. In their third and fourth year in full time Cup competition limit them to twenty starts per year combined in the lesser touring series. And after their fourth full year in Cup allow them to participate in ten total lesser events.
If Joe Gibbs Racing needs Cup drivers in his Nationwide car to placate sponsors, then a rotation of his Cup stable in that car would work. Plus the promoters would have their Cup regular in the car. The television networks would be happy with a Cup regular in the car and the drivers would benefit on a team basis with information gathering.
When watching a Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series race; it’s about the racing, not the star power in the cars. Good racing; especially like what we say at ACS on Saturday is where it’s at.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler - OnPitRow.com