It is a timeless debate that is without end: Should Sprint Cup drivers run in the Nationwide Series?
Some would say no, that it takes away from the young talent battling to make their name in NASCAR. Others would say yes, that it adds credibility to NASCAR's lower divisions and brings the spotlight to the true talent of the series.
Truth be told, the latter have the stronger argument these days.
Sure, we're subjected to the constant obliteration of the Nationwide Series by Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, both of whom are winning week in and week out on Fridays and Saturdays during the season. But without Busch and Keselowski, arguably two of NASCAR's best drivers, where would drivers like Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon be?
While Dillon won the pole for Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 Nationwide event at Las Vegas, Elliott's fifth-place finish made him the top-finishing series regular behind Keselowski, Busch, Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is also Elliott's car owner and a two-time Nationwide Series champion to boot (1998, 1999).
One should take note that while fans and members of the media often take issue with the Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide Series, the Nationwide drivers rarely, if ever, utter a complaint. Who could hold the Sprint Cup stars at fault? They're racers who get paid to race. On top of that, their participation helps teach the younger bunch the ropes for when they make it to the top.
Another thing to take into consideration when discussing the merits of Cup drivers dominating the Nationwide Series is the importance of a victory to a Nationwide series regular. If a Sprint Cup driver wins a Nationwide race, it's a momentum builder, something to add to his (or her) resume. But what if a young Nationwide regular, like Elliott or Dylan Kwasniewski, takes the victory in a Nationwide race peppered with Cup regulars?
He'll have beaten the very best in the business. He'll have bested guys who, at one point, likely adorned his wall on posters torn from magazines like NASCAR Illustrated. In short, it would be a rite of passage for the next generation of NASCAR superstars. It would be a momentum builder as well as a confidence builder as those young drivers grow in the sport.
When the Sprint Cup stars race in the Nationwide Series, they bring attention, money and sponsors to the division. But they also bring their expertise to teach the drivers that will someday be carrying the fate of the sport on their backs. That is integral to the growth of a sport as a whole.
It also solidifies the chances of NASCAR thriving throughout the century.
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