Last week in this space I wrote about the changes that NASCAR has proposed for the 2011 ?Bud Shootout?. And of course, since NASCAR couldn?t leave it at just that, we now have another change to deal with.
By now I?m sure most of you have heard about the new rule that prohibits a NASCAR driver from competing for points in more than one series. Before the season begins a driver must indicate on his license application which of the three top touring series he chooses to earn championship points. He can only pick one.
That means that a driver like Kyle Busch, who will undoubtedly choose the Sprint Cup Series, may still enter as many Nationwide and Truck series events that he wants to, but he will not earn points in any of those races and, therefore, cannot win the championship.
This decision by NASCAR has come in the face of many years of fans and some members of the press whining about the Cup drivers ?stealing? race wins and points away from series regulars and how unfair it is for Cup guys to race with the ?young up and coming? drivers just trying to ?make a name for themselves? in the two lower series.
While it is true that the Nationwide Series has been dominated in recent years by Cup drivers and teams with a strong affiliation with Cup operations, that series is not and has never been meant to be solely a ?feeder? or ?training? series for young drivers. Just ask guys like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant, Jeff Green, or Randy LaJoie if they were training during all those years that they made a career out of running in that series.
This year both Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowksi have sponsor commitments to run the entire Nationwide Series. The difference is that now they do so without any possibility of earning a championship for those sponsors.
It is entirely likely that the series will still be dominated by Cup drivers. Everyone involved in the Nationwide Series from sponsors, to track promoters, to fans, and even the other drivers, like having the Cup guys in ?their? race.
What if non-points drivers finish in the first five places in a Nationwide race, and the first points eligible driver finishes sixth? Does that driver get first place points? We now have the distinct possibility of a Nationwide series regular winning the championship without ever winning a single race. Is that what racing is all about?
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