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Woody: Single-Title Rule Won’t Cure Nationwide Series’ Woes

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 18 2011

A rule limiting NASCAR drivers to competing for points in only one series may or may not keep Cup stars out of the Nationwide Series. Kasey Kahne added a bit of excitement to the NNS race in Bristol last year. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

NASCAR deserves credit for its reported change that will limit drivers to one championship a season. It is intended to provide some relief for its second-tier Nationwide Series, in which

Nationwide-only teams are gasping for air.

Unfortunately it probably won’t help.

The new rule will prevent big-league Cup drivers from making off with the Nationwide championship as they have done year after year. Starting this season, every driver will have to choose one – and only one – series in which he is awarded championship points.

But not being title-eligible won’t stop a considerable number of Cup drivers from continuing to race in the Nationwide Series. And as long as they do, they’ll continue to dominate every race they run.

The big Nationwide races with the juicy paychecks will continue to be chock full of Cup drivers. Just because they aren’t running for the series title won’t keep them from sopping up most of the gravy in individual races.

What the new rule will likely do is eliminate Cup racers from some of the smaller, stand-alone Nationwide events. Since they’re not racing for championship points they’ll be less likely to

Is it farewell to Busch vs. Keselowski in Nationwide? (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

pull one of those grueling Cup/Nationwide weekend doubleheaders for a relatively small paycheck.

But even that may have dire consequences. At such stand-alone Nationwide races – such as the two annual ones at Nashville Superspeedway – having a few Cup stars in the lineup helps sell tickets. Most of the pre-race advertising is focused on the Cup drivers because, as track GM/VP Cliff Hawks notes, that’s who the fans want to see.

Eliminating Cup drivers from the lineup could prove detrimental to a track already struggling to fill seats.

The one thing the new regulation will do is assure that a Nationwide-only team will finally win the Nationwide championship. But that could be a hollow triumph if Cup drivers win all

Can Nationwide-only drivers like Justin Allgaier draw fans on their own? (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

the races in which they’re entered. The Nationwide trophy would be engraved with an asterisk.

It’s a costly trade-out: dampening Nationwide ticket sales at tracks that can least afford it for the sake of crowning a pure Nationwide champion.

The dilemma is not NASCAR’s fault. It knows it has a problem and to its credit it’s trying to do something about it. But it is searching for a solution that may not exist.

When it comes to Cup raiders, the Nationwide Series can’t live with them and – probably, we’ll discover – it can’t live without them.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 18 2011
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Bumpdrafter says:

    I think they should limit the number of Cup drivers in each race, make them qualify for only 5 or so spots plus only allow each driver to enter 5 or so races. It is good to have them there for viewership and to help develop new talent. NASCAR has to find a way to use them but not choke out the growing talent.

  • mrclause says:

    Maybe some of you younger fans don’t know about or remember the old Late Model Sportsman series which became the Busch series which became the Nationwide series. LMS and Busch stood alone, had their own stars, their own fans, made money and had good racing. There weren’t any cup stars keeping it going or drawing fans. Give it a year or two to redevelop it’s own star drivers, build it’s own fan base and it will work just as it did for many, many years. Have NWS races at the mile and under tracks with a few speedway races thrown in. Once the drivers have had a chance to build a fan base it should result in fans having more choices and not having to buy a two or three day ticket to see the one race they wanted to see. It would open racing to more tracks and new fans. Would it work in a single season, no. But by the second season you’ll see a change. Let NWS separate itself more from cup.

    What too many seem to forget is that drivers came to cup with a fan base from LMS and Busch. The drivers were already hero types from those series and smaller local tracks. Don’t agree? Try these names, Sr., Jarrett, the Burton’s, Ard, Ellis, the Sadler’s, the list goes on and on. And they didn’t come in with million dollar contracts, they came with experience and desire. Put NWS back at Rockingham, Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville, have sponsor costs once again reasonable, have purses that will allow the teams to form and grow. I’ve got a hint here, our cup drivers are not the be all end all of our sport. They don’t have to be in every series to make our type of racing something good. Who out there really believes that a stand alone series with the crop of young drivers out there now like Dillon can’t build a fan base to support it? Can’t bring those fans to cup with them? Can’t give you great racing away from cup events? It worked until NASCAR’s greed put it where it is today.

  • Steveo says:

    All this is is Nascar’s attempt to make everyone happy. Those that hate the Cup guys in the field will be happy (they think) and Nascar can make their money by still allowing Cup guys in the races and selling tickets. Problem is, I don’t see attendance being that great for the NW races on companion weekends anyway. I don’t think this is going to help much when the Cup guys will still be winning all the races. Like Ken said, its going to make the NW championship have very little meaning when its all said and done

  • Ken says:

    I think this change will make the Nationwide championship meaningless and it will assist in the demise of the tracks with stand alone Nationwide racing.