A funny thing happened this year in the Nationwide Series while everyone was fawning over Danica: some pretty decent racing broke out. Heck- I’ll take the “junior varsity” event at Fontana any day of the week over the Cup action there, plus I think you’ll agree with me that the action wasn’t half bad at Vegas or Daytona.
I have a question, though. If you’re a little less than a WAY serious fan, do these name ring a bell with you? I’m talking about Justin Allgaier, Steve Wallace, Trevor Bayne, Rick Stenhouse, Jr., or James Buescher. These non-Cup regulars are plying their trade, and some quite well, in the Nationwide Series. Did you know Allgaier and Wallace running top ten in the standings right now? Only a serious fan would know that.
That it took IRL and “GoDaddy” star Danica Patrick racing there to get the series some attention makes a sad statement about the Nationwide Series. Fellow Bump Drafter Patrick Reynolds (who worked in the Germain shop at one time) has said it, and I agree, it’s a series without an identity.
Well, actually it does, now that I think of it. It’s Saturday practice for the likes of Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle. Now before you go skewering me about this, I get it. I know their passion for racing. All the above mention Cup drivers are champions in the series and they want to be where the action is. I’m also sure that it doesn’t hurt the bank account.
But it’s time they got out. At least driving Nationwide as much as they do.
Tom Bowles said it over at Frontstretch, and I agree, Cup regulars stinking up the show in Nationwide is like a major leaguer beating up on Triple A competition in baseball, or Dwayne Wade running up his scoring average on NBDL competition. Those minor league systems exist for the purpose of developing athletes for the highest level, and everyone involved knows it.
I do understand the star power and pull these drivers have, especially in their home regions. That’s why I propose the idea of limiting full time Cup drivers to 10 entries a year in the Nationwide Series. This lets Harvick play to his homeys in California and Phoenix. Carl Edwards can light up the tracks in St. Loo and Iowa. Heck, Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. can still run Daytona and have a few more dates to play around with as well. It just means these guys wouldn’t be running for championships anymore. They shouldn’t be. That’s what Cup is for.
I’m amused that the commercials for the Nationwide Series feature the young bucks trying to break into Cup, but these guys never get a real chance against what we used to call the “Buschwackers.” What’s worse is when guys like Scott Lagasse get shafted like Aric Almirola did three seasons ago, because the almighty sponsors want a Cup guy in their car. Drivers like Brad Coleman, Stephen Leicht, and Landon Cassil should be getting seat time in the NNS- not Denny Hamlin.
I also don’t mind having the older guys in there like Kenny Wallace, Morgan Shepherd and Scott Riggs in there. Guys who keep their chops sharp by staying in the cockpit, because they will get called to fill in from time to time. Or maybe they’re there for other reasons. After all, in baseball, you see your share of Crash Davis types who will likely never make it at the top level, but they still love to play and do so at the minor league level. There’s nothing wrong with that. Ralph Earnhardt and Sam Ard were legends in their own right without having much chance to race in Cup.
Let’s give these Nationwide rides to the REAL Young Guns. Let’s also get the young lasses legitimate seat time to prove their worth. Are these young drivers, who are admittedly a little raw, marketable? Apparently, they are, because that’s who gets marketed in the race promos.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves about what the Nationwide Series is, and what it ought to be. It’ll be fun watching Michael Annett and Brian Scott trading paint, with old salts like Tony Raines and Mike Wallace keeping them honest.
We’ll never know until we try. Let’s give it a chance. Whattya say?