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Cup Notes: Cupcake Eating Needs Attention

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 10 2010

Carl Edwards congratulates fellow Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski after they became Nationwide winners at Texas Saturday. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski’s clinching of the 2010 Nationwide Series championship, the first ever in NASCAR for him and his car owner Roger Penske, came on the same Saturday afternoon that the University of Georgia stomped a small-school Football Championship Subdivision opponent, Idaho State, in college football and Auburn beat up on an undermanned Chattanooga team.

The three victories all seem to show that some rules changes are in order, in NASCAR and in college football.

It seems like it would be much more fair in football if the powerhouse teams were limited in the number of starters who could play in games against much smaller schools.

In NASCAR, there’s a fairness issue as well.

Granted, Keselowski and Penske had to beat another full-time Cup driver and owner, Carl Edwards and Jack Roush, to take the Nationwide title, but the independent Nationwide teams have about as much chance of winning a championship as Chattanooga does of beating Auburn, one of the nation’s most powerful football teams.

It’s nothing new in the Nationwide Series. It’s been dominated by Cup drivers and Cup teams for years. It was supposed to be more of a developmental series, but the only development being done is by Cup teams who use Nationwide races to get experience for the youngsters they’ve already put in their Cup cars.

The last independents to win a Nationwide title were Jeff Green and his car owner Greg Pollex back in 2000.

Loyalty test: The crew swap at Hendrick Motorsports, where Jimmie Johnson got Jeff Gordon’s pit crew for the final two races is nothing new these days as it came several weeks after Richard Childress gave Kevin Harvick the quicker crew of Clint Bowyer when it became evident that Bowyer had no shot at the title.

But the moves do go against the old philosophy of “dancing with the one that brung you.”

The real effect of the swap won’t be known for some time, but it could be part of the unraveling of the Johnson dynasty, especially of Johnson and his new crew are unable to overtake Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 team in the next two races.

The displaced 48 crew members then might be more willing to entertain offers from other teams, and those that stay might not ever have the confidence they once had. Only time will tell.

Impressive First Impression: Trevor Bayne’s impressive performance in his Cup debut at Texas Motor Speedway, where he started 43rd because of a transmission change but finished 17th in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford despite getting blocked in the pits on several occasions, was a fast start even by NASCAR standards.

Some of the sport’s best drivers have had lackluster results at best in their first race in NASCAR’s elite division.

David Pearson, who dominated the superspeedways in the  Wood Brothers Ford back in the 1970s, was 28th in his first race, the 1960 Daytona 500, although he did finish 17th in the qualifying race. Cale Yarborough finished 42nd in his debut, at Darlington in 1957. Darrell Waltrip was 38th at Talladega in 1972. More recently, Jeff Gordon crashed and finished 31st at Atlanta in his 1992 debut. Jimmie Johnson crashed and finished 39th at Charlotte in 2001. Denny Hamlin was 32nd at Kansas in 2005.

Bayne did tie NASCAR’s all-time winner Richard Petty, who was 17th in his debut at Toronto in 1958, but he crashed and there were only 19 drivers in that race.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 10 2010
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • RA Eckart says:

    What would you think of this rule? “A driver who competes in more than 20 Cup races can only compete in 12 in any single lower series for one owner.”

    It allows a driver to compete for the championship, but he must do it for at least 3 owners. That spreads out prize & sponsorship money.

    The tracks and TV are right, the Cup drivers sell tickets, so you can’t exclude them. This means you can’t exclude points or money, either. You have to find a way for them to do it, but not pile on the up-and-comers. What are the weaknesses to the above rule?

  • Fordfan17 says:

    Impressive? Yes.But that seems to be a theme with some drivers.We at Ford are happy Trevor is among us,as he is Truly a talented young man.But if you want to speak of impressive,a young man named Matt was just that a few years back,when he stood in for Bill Elliot.I believe that young man finished sixth in his first start!Of course he never really amounted to much,did he? (SARCASM intended!)