Woody: New Rule Bans Bayne, Bites NASCAR
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
A just-turned-20 driver won NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500, in his second Sprint Cup start.
He had a yellow “rookie stripe” on the back of his car.
Yet according a just-implemented NASCAR rule Trevor Bayne is not eligible to contend for this season’s Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year.
Starting this year NASCAR requires drivers who compete in both Cup and Nationwide Series races to declare in which series they want to receive points. They can continue to race in both but they can’t compete for championships or other awards in both.
When young Bayne signed up awhile back he declared for the Nationwide Series, in which he plans to run a full schedule. That means that he could go on to have the greatest Cup season in the history of the series and not be eligible for Rookie of the Year or – as it stands now – even the championship.
Can you appreciate the irony? The new rule was intended to prevent Cup drivers from running off with the Nationwide championship as they’ve done year after year. Nobody in their wildest dream imagined it might keep a Nationwide driver from winning the Cup title.
Of course we’re putting the cart before the championship. Winning one race – albeit the biggest in the sport – doesn’t necessarily put Bayne on the path to the Cup title.
His Wood Brothers team doesn’t even plan to run the full Cup season, although those plans might change after last Sunday’s amazing race.
You can bet NASCAR would be delighted to see a bright young personality like Bayne on the track in every Cup races, especially if he keeps driving the legendary Woods Brothers Ford the way he did Sunday. It would be the greatest feel-good story to come along in years.
So here’s a suggestion: if the Wood Brothers should secure a full-season sponsorship for their car that would enable Bayne to run all the Cup races, NASCAR should simply change the rule prohibiting duel title attempts. If anything, amend the rule to permit a driver to change his mind by mid-season and declare for the other series title.
NASCAR had good intentions, trying to arrange it so that a Nationwide-only could win the Nationwide Series championship. But even that wasn’t going to solve the second-tier series problems. As we saw in the Nationwide opener at Daytona last Saturday, Cup drivers are going to continue to run Nationwide races – especially the more lucrative ones – win them, and scoop off the gravy.
All the rule did – or could do – is prevent a sizzling young talent like Bayne from competing for deserved honors in the Cup series.
If NASCAR can change its car rules virtually in the middle of a race, it can amend its new no-double-points rule too, because right of the box Master Bayne threw a monkey wrench into it.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments