When any driver scores wins back to back to back, people get annoyed. When any Cup driver does so in Nationwide, it sparks a whole lot more controversy than simply annoyance. The debate regarding whether or not Cup drivers should be permitted to race Nationwide or whether their schedules, equipment, or on-track positions should be regulated by NASCAR in order to lessen their chances to win arises in times like right now, as Kyle Busch has taken home the checkered in five of his eight Nationwide series starts this season. Busch’s record so far this year, his first year back in equipment from the Joe Gibbs Racing shop, has stirred questions of how to mitigate the Nationwide dominance of Busch as well as other Cup drivers in the field.
Possibly the most prominent suggestion on how to alleviate the Nationwide Series of Cup-driver dominance is to not allow full-time Cup competitors race in Nationwide races. In the spur of the moment, after a Cup driver wins yet another Nationwide race, this idea sounds rather reasonable. However, having Cup drivers race in lower ranks is absolutely necessary for a number of reasons.
Eliminating Cup drivers from Nationwide competition would greatly detract from numerous aspects of the series. Having a top-level driver compete in the Nationwide series sets a bar to judge up-and-coming talent with. Without the likes of Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, and other Cup competitors racing in Nationwide races, there is no scale on which to realistically judge the rest of the field; there is only the scale of Nationwide drivers vs. Nationwide drivers, and the judging of their talent and readiness for the Cup series would be impaired by using such a one-dimensional measurement.
A more thought-out response to this debate is for NASCAR to regulate Cup activity in the Nationwide realm, popular suggestions being to give Cup drivers a limit on Nationwide races per season, to make them start at the rear of the field, or to take them out of top-of-the-line equipment from teams such as Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, or Penske. Showering these sorts of afflictions on Cup drivers during Nationwide races would be similar to putting an MLB player in a minor-league game and tying his good hand behind his back; it would be almost offensive to the regular competitors in the series, like a mockery of their skill levels.
There are many aspects to consider when regarding Cup drivers competing in the Nationwide Series and how to deal with the situation. But, most importantly, one of the great beauties of racing is seeing an unprecedented, astonishing upset, when a less experienced driver finishes above the veterans. Without Cup drivers competing in the Nationwide Series, that kind of outcome will cease to exist. Upsets are one of the best types of finishes, however, upsets cannot occur if there is no one to upset.
By Alanis King