Issues with possible limitations on Sprint Cup competitors in Xfinity, Truck
According to NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio on Monday, NASCAR’s considering changes when it comes to Sprint Cup Series drivers and/or teams competing in the Xfinity and/or Camping World Truck series. O’Donnell hinted that change(s) could be coming soon but didn’t specify exactly what the change(s) would be. Heck, NASCAR may not have even decided yet on the specifics.
I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this one, and I’m at least kind of against it. I have a few issues with a move to limit or eliminate Cup drivers and/or teams in the other two series, and here are some reasons why:
I think there are misconceptions about the Xfinity and Truck series, and these misconceptions have caught so much steam over the last couple of decades that even NASCAR, itself, has bought in.
There’s the idea that the Xfinity and Truck series are developmental series, that they’re simply rungs on the ladder to the ultimate prize — the Sprint Cup Series. When the series now known as the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series were first created, they weren’t formed to be some kind of developmental series. No, they were simply offshoots, simply other series of NASCAR, providing more entertainment for the fans and additional options for racers.
Maybe I need to face the fact that NASCAR’s other two national series (Xfinity and Truck) have become just that — developmental series — but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t NASCAR’s initial intent. That’s just what a few drivers and some team owners turned it into several years back. In the time since, even NASCAR’s thrown in the towel. After all, the latest slogan for the Xfinity Series goes something like, “Where names are made.”
Maybe it’s time for me to just give in, too. I have to admit, though, it’s kind of hard. I was one of those fans that first became attracted to one of these other option. I was, actually, drawn to the Busch (now-Xfinity) Series first, and then, became a fan of Winston (now-Sprint) and then Craftsman (now-Camping World) Truck.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always had an issue with folks referring to Xfinity and Truck as lesser series or statements that include phrases like “moving up to Sprint Cup” or “moving down to Xfinity.”
Another issue I have is the misplacement of critic ire. I’m not sure if the issue of Sprint Cup dominance of Xfinity and Truck, especially in Xfinity, is a driver issue. I’m of the midset that the issue, if we’re even going to call this an issue, is an issue of ownership, not driver.
The issue of Cup competitors in the Xfinity Series has picked up steam with reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch winning nine Xfinity Series races, so far, this season. But is Busch, himself, the issue, or is the issue, really, Sprint Cup team owner Joe Gibbs also owning Xfinity Series teams? Remember back when Busch owned his own Xfinity Series team? If you do, you may also remember that he never won in his own equipment in the Xfinity Series. The only win KBM ever claimed at the Xfinity Series level came with brother Kurt Busch behind the wheel. That’s it.
At the start of this blog post, I didn’t simply write “Sprint Cup drivers.” Instead, I threw teams/owners in there. That was something I took upon myself, because, really, the focus of discussion seems to be on the drivers. Considering Kyle Busch’s dominance of the Xfinity Series in JGR equipment versus his own equipment has me thinking the focus is misplaced. I think if any changes need to be made, maybe they should, at least in part, apply to owners either in addition to or instead of drivers.
And speaking of Busch, that brings up another issue I have with the idea of possible upcoming changes and criticism of these Cup drivers in Xfinity and Camping World Truck. Several Cup drivers run in the Xfinity Series, some of them a lot. It’s not just Busch. Yet, Busch always seems to be the focus of the discussion of Cup drivers racing in the other series. Yeah, I get that Busch is the one winning the bulk of the races, but isn’t making new rules because of frustration over one particular driver winning penalizing excellence? That’s like saying, “We don’t like that you’re good, so get out.
Nobody seemed to think there was a problem when then-Roush Fenway drivers Mark Martin and Jeff Burton were running so many then-Busch Series races. Busch holds the honor of the winningest driver in Xfinity Series history. What some seem to have forgotten is that he overtook Martin for that title. At least the bulk of Martin’s tally didn’t come as a full-time driver in the series. Nope, they came simultaneous to his Cup career. Where was the outcry then?
And what about more recent Xfinity wins by Cup drivers? The rumbling isn’t all that loud at all when Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon pull into an Xfinity victory lane. Is it because they don’t win as much as Busch? After all, they’re Cup drivers, too.
See now, why to me, this is an issue of wanting to penalize Busch for his talent as a racer?
If changes are going to be made, they should go both ways, I think. What’s good for one should be good for the other. Are these people calling for the removal of or limitations on Cup drivers in Xfinity and Truck also in favor of limiting Xfinity and Truck series drivers in Sprint Cup? I have a feeling, no. When Xfinity and Truck Series drivers are in the race fields for Cup Chase races, couldn’t they influence Chase results, too? Winning races isn’t the only way to impact a Chase.
And something else — why are fans okay with Busch, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, and/or others heading to local tracks to race on dirt or run asphalt late models somewhere? They’re not regulars in those series either. Hypocritical much?