I have long felt that NASCAR should keep Cup drivers from racing in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. It is something that I have had strong feelings about for a long time. Many in the industry feel the same way and certainly I have heard from a large number of fans that shared my thinking.
It just did not seem fair to have Cup racers coming in to take the wins and the big bucks along with the bulk of the media exposure from the regulars on the Xfinity and Truck circuits.
Cup racers have won more than 70-percent of the Xfinity races run this season and Kyle Busch has dominated the win column. Few of the Truck races were won by series regulars. And quite frankly it made for some lackluster competition being dominated by the well-funded Cup owners wanting to give their drivers some track time.
Well, NASCAR has decided to listen to those who voiced their opinions about what was happening in Xfinity and Truck events ... sort of. Starting in 2017, premier series drivers (that is the Sprint Cup drivers) with more than five years of full-time experience will be eligible to compete in a maximum of 10 races in the Xfinity and seven races in the Camping World Truck Series.
They refer to the Cup racers as the premier series because Sprint is leaving at the end of the season and there is no new sponsor in place of yet.
Now in addition to those limits, drivers with more than five years of full-time premier series experience will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races of the season in each series. In addition they will not be permitted to participate in the Dash 4 Cash races that are part of the Xfinity Series. That will include the regular season finale and the entirety of the Chase in each series.
And there is more, drivers earning premier series points in 2017 will not be eligible to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Series Championship races at the end of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of a future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “These update guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR.”
Quite frankly, I think it is a good move on the part of NASCAR and something I have pushed for over the years. However, I still do not feel it goes far enough.
I was thinking that allowing the premier series drivers to race in three or even five of the lower series events would be enough. I would have liked to have seen the practice done away with all together but I was sure that would not happen. However, I do think that the number of events the Cup drivers will be allowed to race in is still too many.
What I can see is the Cup drivers picking and choosing just the high dollar events or the more prestigious of the Xfinity and Truck Series races. They will still be out there looking to help their manufacturer win the prestigious Manufacturer’s Award at the end of the season.
I would like to see the Cup drivers use some of the events that they are allowed to run for standalone events, meaning races during weekends when the Cup racers are not included. If what many say about Cup drivers being a shot-in-the-arm for ticket sales for the Xfinity and or Truck events, this would be the proving test.
Of course the rising stars in Cup, those without the five years of experience, such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and a couple of others, will still be able to pick and choose as many events as they would like.
Drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the premier series can still run for an Xfinity Series or Camping World Series championship, provided that they declare themselves for the championship points in the two respective series. That opens the door for those premier series drivers to drop down in competition in an effort to revive their career and just spend their years before retirement in Xfinity and Truck Series races.
You see that happening with many drivers today such as Morgan Shepherd, Derrike Cope, and others. They are just trying to hang in there until they just have to give up and head into retirement.
In my mind the change is a step in the right direction by NASCAR but just not a big enough step.
* * *NASCAR has announced that will be cutting the number of Goodyear tires the Sprint Cup teams will get next season. That will be something that will happen mostly at the intermediate sized tracks and that could be as many as three sets.
I like the idea. It certainly would help keep expenses under control. However I am pretty sure that teams will figure out ways to spend that money in other areas rather than put in back in the bank.
Cutting the sets of tires will increase the importance of tire strategy.
Now though I agree with the decision to cut back on tires I am hoping that this decision has been well thought about and that Goodyear is in a position to provide much better tires since, in my opinion, the tires have not been holding up all that well. That could be because the teams do not pay attention to Goodyear’s instructions on how the tires should be inflated.
Certainly we would not want to see NASCAR being put in the position of not being able to finish a race because the teams ran out of tires. That may be a stretch. However I do think that teams will probably be paying more attention to proper tire care and we just may see more of those pit stops that have just a two tire change.
Overall I think it will make for a better racing show. Just my opinion.