Thursday, April 28, 2011

Speak Your Mind: What can be done about Cup driver dominance?

Do you take notice of Sprint Cup drivers racing all three series? Well, as we all know NASCAR did, implementing the one series rule, having a driver declare which series they will run for points in. This alone has not stopped the Cup driver dominance, as we saw last weekend at Nashville when most Cup drivers were enjoying the off week, others were taking to the track to race.
Edwards and Busch battled for the win at Nashville.
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

In this week's edition of Speak Your Mind, we asked our contributors the following questions: Should NASCAR go further to prevent Cup drivers from winning in all the other series? Perhaps by limiting races in their non-declared series? Do you feel that this is even a problem?

Holly Machuga: I think it should go a little bit further as to limit the number of races they can participate in. The Nationwide drivers do not get any sense of winning with Cup drivers winning every single race. Similar problems are found in the truck series.

However, I can see why NASCAR still allows the Cup drivers in all three series and that is for publicity. Many fans would not be as inclined to watch the Camping World Truck series or Nationwide series races if people like Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch were not racing in them.

Lacy Keyser: I do not mind Cup guys in Nationwide but there comes a time when enough is enough. Sorry to say but I hate watching a Nationwide race and it's a Kyle Busch show, or a Carl show, etc. I like drivers like Kevin Harvick, Dale Jr. and Clint Bowyer who race a few races here and there, but not this let's race in Nationwide every week. I want to see Nationwide guys be able to race and perform. It really angers me that NASCAR doesn't make Busch, Edwards, Keselowski, etc. limit their races because I feel they should. It really angers me, why watch a race when Sunday I can pretty much watch the same outcome?

Summer Dreyer: I think the "problem" is exaggerated somewhat, but I definitely think that the series exclusive points rule is a step in the right direction. Maybe NASCAR is looking into making more changes, but are slowly implementing mandates for the Cup drivers to see how the fans respond. For the most part, I've seen a positive response from the new points system in general. If NASCAR decides to limit Cup drivers from the sport, one option they could consider exploring is saying a driver can only run an "x" amount of races across all three series. That way you're not limiting driver development from other series and they can still jump around, while the Cup drivers can't necessarily dominate the lower series. Maybe 50 races would be a good number, but I'm sure there are other options as well.

Genevieve Cadorette: I realize that sponsors want a Sprint Cup driver to drive a Nationwide car or a Truck; I also realize that a team owner wants to build his business and I'm also aware of the fact that Sprint Cup drivers love to race, even if they don't win points or a Championship Cup, they just want to race. With that said, let's also remember there are drivers who cannot race in Sprint Cup - they must work their way up the series until they find themselves in the top series. Sprint Cup drivers winning every week is taking the spot light away from the Truck and Nationwide drivers who need the light to shine on them. I understand they are getting the points and at this point, we may crown a driver who never won a race. In some respects, I thought since Cup drivers are not winning points, why not award the first (Truck/Nationwide) driver to win the points the award (the guitar in Nashville for example). Why are we giving victory lane glory to the guy who isn't winning points?

In Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson did not win last year's Homestead race; Carl Edwards did and although we did recognize the winner, we weren't focused on Edwards; we spent more time with Johnson and we should do something similar with the Nationwide and Truck drivers.

Should we limit the races for Cup drivers? Yes, we should. If Cup drivers don't have a race that weekend, why bother go out of their way? The Nashville race is for Truck and Nationwide series, let the Truck and Nationwide drivers race alone and see who wins in their division. It would be nice to see one race without a Cup driver in it.

Another thought crossed my mind. Why not limit how many Cup drivers race in a race? Instead of 5 Cup drivers at a time, how about one at a time? If a Cup driver owns a team, how about promote
their men? Dale Jr. does well in promoting Wise and Almirola, why don't other owners follow suit?

Melissa Wright: I don’t agree with the amount of Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series races. I think that there should be a limit to how many entries there are per track and also, a limited amount of entries per season. They over shadow the Nationwide drivers that run full time, let alone those that have to qualify to make the race. I realize that they bring spectators and sponsorship to the sport but without exposure (which is lacking tremendously) these teams are struggling week by week. At this point it’s not even about points when it’s Kyle Busch winning consecutively or Carl Edwards. Joey Logano found out at the last minute that he had sponsorship to race in Nashville for the Nashville 300. He still had a top 5 finish. He finished 4th. There were three other Cup drivers also were also included, Brad Keselowski, David Reutimann and David Stremme who is to make his debut this upcoming weekend at Richmond. None of these drivers are gaining any points. Yet another disadvantage for the Nationwide drivers.

Onto the winnings: Edwards' winnings were $41,950 and Johnny Chapman received $9,921 for placing 43rd. Chapman had only completed 1 lap. These under-funded teams can’t afford to race against these guys. They have different engine packages and everything. It’s simply not fair. They need to balance it out more than NASCAR having the drivers choose which series they are running for points championship in prior to the beginning of the season.

Cup teams should maybe even race from the back of the field like they did in stock car racing when I grew up. Make it more interesting. Cup should only advance into other series outside of the league in my opinion. I just don’t understand why these same drivers are filling the seat. Owner points can be established if they’d just have faith in someone else. It’s time for some new revelation stories like the “discovery” of Trevor Bayne at Daytona! I’d love to see a field of 43 Nationwide drivers and there be coverage on all of them! Show us what you’ve got and what you’re made of!

Rebecca Kivak: I think NASCAR had good intentions with the one-title rule, and I am seeing more emphasis on the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series points leaders on a weekly basis. But NASCAR didn't go far enough, as we are still seeing full-time Sprint Cup drivers winning every week in these series. Nothing against the talents of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, etc., but when it comes to Cup drivers running the lower-tier series, enough is enough. It's ridiculous that the Nationwide regulars can't win races in their own series. The Sprint Cup-affiliated Nationwide teams have more funds and resources than the Nationwide-only teams, plus the experience of the Cup drivers themselves, so of course the Cup drivers are dominating the races. It's even spreading to the Camping World Truck Series - to have only one series regular win a race so far this season boggles my mind with the variety of talented and experienced regulars in that series.
One of Busch's many NCWTS victories, Nashville Superspeedway
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Even when Cup was off this past weekend, there were still several Cup drivers in the NNS race at Nashville, so it was no surprise one of them won. It's entirely possible that in the Nationwide Series, we will have a champion with no wins, which is a disservice to the series regulars and the series itself.

I understand how having Cup regulars in these races can draw fans in the seats and TV viewers. When I first got into NASCAR, the Cup regulars were why I started watching Nationwide - I actually knew who some of the drivers were! And I understand that sponsors prefer experienced Cup drivers known to win than unproven or developing drivers. But the Nationwide Series has gone from being a development or feeder series to Sprint Cup Lite, where the heavyweights win every time. Even though I think the Nationwide regulars can learn by racing against Cup drivers, it's also hurting them because they don't have the wins or top 5s needed to show they are ready to advance to the next level.

If I'm going to complain, then I should provide a solution. I said in a past Speak Your Mind that NASCAR needed to go further and limit the amount of races Cup drivers can run in Nationwide and trucks, and I still stand by that. I propose a limit of 10-15 races a year in each of those two series. This could still satisfy sponsors and fans. Maybe teams could even alternate Cup drivers behind the wheel, like Joe Gibbs Racing does with the No. 20 car in Nationwide. This would help put both series, Nationwide especially, back in the hands of their regulars.

Amanda Ebersole: If you asked me this a year ago, I would say no way, there is no problem. Cup drivers in Nationwide is exciting. This year my views have expanded, through learning of the struggles of the start-and-park teams, just trying to make ends meet, I have to say we need to end the double-dipping.

I am not against Cup drivers making occasional starts in other series, such as Kasey Kahne at Darlington in the NCWTS or Tony Stewart making a start in the Nationwide race. That garners attention for sponsors and draws more viewers to the race, and I think that adds fresh hype to the race. Instead, in the current situation I see people each week complain about drivers "stinking up the show" and though I know this is not the drivers' intention, maybe it is time to do something.

My solution: limit the races run in the non-designated series. NASCAR can set the number.

Now we want to hear what you the fans think, leave a comment below and give us your thoughts.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Since Nascar is basing the chase on wins and that's what everyone wants is to win. I think they should eliminate cup drivers out of nationwide or trucks so these guys that are signed up can win not just win by points. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander'

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