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Woody: Where’s The Help For Nationwide?

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 25 2009
Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards leads Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick during the Nationwide race at Phoenix a couple weeks ago. (File photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards leads Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick during the Nationwide race at Phoenix a couple weeks ago. (File photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

This is getting ridiculous.

No, it’s been ridiculous for years; now it’s getting absurd.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A full-time Sprint Cup driver won the championship in NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide Series.

Kyle Busch not only won the title, he made a shambles of the race. He won nine races and by the midway point of the season had a virtually untouchable lead in the point standings.

The only drama was how close another full-time Cup driver, Carl Edwards, might come in at the finish. Answer: not very.

There wasn’t a stand-alone Nationwide driver anywhere in sight down the stretch, just as there was seldom one in sight during any of the races during the season.

The Cup double-dippers have killed the Nationwide Series, as far as it being a second separate racing entity, and apparently NASCAR doesn’t give a flip. If it does, it sure doesn’t show it.

Gary Baker, co-owner of a full-time Nationwide team, said NASCAR listened to the complaints of his fellow owners a couple of years ago “and promised to do something.”

They’re still waiting.

There was speculation that NASCAR might limit the number of full-time Cuppers in a Nationwide race, or set up a separate points system for the Nationwide-only drivers.

So far, nothing. The silence from Daytona Beach is deafening.

Now another Nationwide season has come and gone, marked by another year to total dominance by Cup raiders.

The situation had been irritating in the past; now, given the wobbly economy, it’s downright devastating. Nationwide teams are forced to survive on a fraction of the average Cup team’s budget, even as the Cuppers continue to drain off prize money and sponsorships. It’s Robin Hood in reverse: the rich are robbing the poor.

If it continues, the Nationwide Series is doomed; of course it’s been doomed for years in terms of being a legitimate second-tier series. It’s nothing more than Cup Lite, a warm-up act for bored big-leaguers waiting around for the main event.

I know all the arguments: the Cup stars helps generate interest in a Nationwide race. They sell tickets and boost TV ratings.

They also win most of the races and take away most of the goodies from the series.

The Cuppers have every advantage, from driver and crew talent to better cars and equipment. And as we’ve seen in recent years, the gap between the Cuppers and the Nationwide regulars keeps getting wider and wider.

No Nationwide team had a prayer – not a ghost of a chance – for the title this season.

NASCAR is busily planning the 2010 season and so far I haven’t heard a whisper about any changes in how it will run its Nationwide operation. Looks like it’ll be business as usual next season.

Wonder which Sprint Cup driver will be favored to win the 2010 Nationwide championship?

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 25 2009


  • JeffT says:

    From the other side, I enjoy having the Cup drivers in the Nationwide races and with all the back markers and ” stop and park ” teams—I wish we had more Cup guys. If these ” young ” drivers ever to make it in Cup, they better get used to competing against the Edwards and Buschs of the world, it is more difficult there than ever before to make it in the Cup level. Gee, I hear all the complaining about NASCAR ” intruding ” the teams and now we want NASCAR to tell us who can and can not be in the Nationwide races? Hey, if the Truck Series had more guys like Kyle Busch to run in their series, it would be much better. And while I respect the Kenny Wallace’s and Jason Keller’s of the series, if you biggest argument is that you would like to those guys win, not sure that is a good one.
    If you don’t want to see Cup drivers in Nationwide, that can happen and they can run at South Boston and Greenville-Pickens but you won’t see it live on TV or qualifying and practice—the networks won’t do it.

  • Steve says:

    Folks who purchase tickets for a Nationwide race only to see their favorite Cup drivers are not race fans, but only fans of that particular driver. Some people like myself are turning off the tv because of the influx of Cup drivers in that series. They have also grown up with the old Busch series where a regular actually won the championship.

    And by the way, Harvick uses his Cup crew to pit his car in the Nationwide series. The combination weekends at least, so he is not a good comparison.

    Also, Cup drivers do not provide valuable experience. They provide more frustration and take away sponsorships and ride for some good drivers. Ask Mike Bliss if you have any questions about this. The guy was 6th in points and lost his ride? To a Cup driver? There is somethign seriously wrong if that happens to a driver like Bliss.

  • James W. says:

    I agree with Peggy K about letting them run if they use their own non-cup affiliated teams. I will say one thing about the 2009 Nascar season, 9 out of 10 Nationwide races provided better racing than the Sprint Cup series. The only reason Nascar is letting them stay in there is becuase it helps the tracks sale tickets at a time when they are having trouble with ticket sales everywhere. I mean most fans would rather buy tickets if they hear that Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano are going to be there instead of Jason Leffler, Steven Wallace, Mike Bliss and Michael Annett.

  • Peggy K says:

    Since cup drivers have always been a part of the NW series, and contribute valuable experience to the younger or less experienced drivers, I have this suggestion. Allow cup drivers to compete any time BUT no cup teams should be involved. All teams should be Nationwide only. No swapping of crews or car chiefs. No sharing shops. Harvick has it right – he put his own money into developing a race team and after a number of years it has become successful.

  • Andy Pandy says:

    True. I watch every Cup race, and whatever truck races that I can catch. However, if I’m channel surfing and a Nationwide race is on, I’ll just wait for the scoring to scroll by to see if any non-cup drivers are inthe top ten, and then I’ll keep surfing. I want to see hungry new guys racing for the win, trying to catch the eye of a cup owner so they can move up, and the career Saturday racers who always hae a chance to win like Lajoie and McLaughlin and Keller were back in the Busch days.

  • Tracy Kiser says:

    I totally agree. Cup is killing Nationwide. Why race or even try for a championship. Ok, let’s try for 3rd or 4th this year!!