Woody: Where’s The Help For Nationwide?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Comments