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Monday, July 26, 2010

Big changes coming for Nationwide series in 2011?

Of the many big changes being considered for 2011, one of them involves the Nationwide series and what role Cup drivers will have in the series. Ever since Martin Truex Jr. won back-to-back titles in the 2004 and 2005 seasons, every title has been won by a Cup driver doing double duty and racing full-time in both series (Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick). This year is likely to be a repeat, with either Brad Keselowski or Edwards winning the title.

As I have written many times in this blog, this situation has gotten out of control and needs to stop. I have no problem with Cup guys running the series and competing for wins, as that will get people out to the racetrack at a time when ticket sales are down. But there is something very wrong with Cup guys taking away any hopes of Nationwide regulars winning the championship.

This used to be a series where young, up-and-coming drivers could battle for race wins and the title, and showcase their abilities as they tried to impress team owners and move up to the next level and get a Cup ride. Now, they just hope to be one of the non-Cup drivers to get a top-10 finish.

My solution: Limit the number of races each Cup driver can run. Maybe 20 or 25. This way, they can pick their favorite tracks and race for wins, while the younger guys in the series can battle for the title. I would much rather see a Justin Allgaier vs. Trevor Bayne points battle in Nationwide than a Keselowski vs. Edwards points battle. Those guys can do their points battling in the Cup series.

If this doesn’t happen, there needs to at least be some kind of points limitations placed on the two-series drivers. Maybe they can run every race for the win and the money, but they only get half the points each race, or after a certain number of race they don’t even get points. The end result should be that Cup drivers can’t earn the Nationwide championship.

In a developmental series, a developmental driver should win the title (like Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex and others did in the past), not a veteran swooping down to steal their crown.

Season ender at Daytona in 2011?
In recent years, little has changed on the Cup schedule. That will change in 2011, with major adjustments likely and several tracks losing (California? Atlanta?) or gaining dates (Vegas?, Kansas City?). Among the biggest deal may be the moving of the final race of the season from Homestead to somewhere else – perhaps Las Vegas. This would be a logical move, with the end-of-season banquet already moved to Vegas last year. And the other option reportedly being considered?: A Daytona finale. Restrictor-plate racing determining the title seems kind of crazy to me, considering that it’s basically a lottery, but if it will bring interest in the sport I wouldn’t say it’s out of the realm of possibility. My money is on Vegas, though … no pun intended.

Indy double returning?
With an earlier Indy 500 start likely in 2011, it’s very possible at least one driver will try to complete both races next May. The idea for an early start team gained momentum when Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., proposed a possible $20 million bonus for any driver who could win both races on the same day.

While it’s highly unlikely any driver could actually win both races in one day, it’s a very cool thing that this is even being considered, and I would love to see someone like Tony Stewart actually pull it off. That’s a lot of motivation, and it would be possibly the greatest achievement in the history of modern motorsport if someone could pull it off.

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Anonymous Tyler said...

I think the Nationwide series needs to do less companion events and go back to places like South Boston, Myrtle Beach, Hickory, and all of the short tracks they ran in the 90's.

July 26, 2010 at 6:53 AM 
Anonymous MarshallDog said...

I have a radical idea that would never happen. Instead of getting the cup drivers out of the nationwide series, NASCAR should also focus on getting the cup owners out of the nationwide series. I would institute a rule where a cup owner with more that two teams could not run the full nationwide schedule. That would prevent the super teams like Gibbs and Roush from taking the big prize money away from the smaller outfits and let those organizations grow- when was the last time a new team came from the nationwide series to establish a full-time cup team? I feel like it used to happen more often not too long ago. Anyway, I want a truly independent racing series, not a second level of the same teams with the same drivers. While we're at it, let's get some more short tracks on the nationwide schedule and stop running so many companion events.

July 26, 2010 at 3:35 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I agree with the concept of running more solo events at smaller venues. Problem is NASCAR follows the money, and the fewer Cup drivers show up the less money they make, so this will never happen.

It would be nice to see, though.

As far as limiting who can own cars in the series, you're right: that will never happen.

July 26, 2010 at 3:38 PM 

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