The records that Kyle Busch is breaking this year in the Nationwide Series are not impressive at all. For the simple reason that he, or any other Cup Series driver, does not belong down there in the first place.
Of course Kyle wins all the time, of course Kyle is breaking all the records in that series, he's better than anyone else out there. He has top notch equipment and talent, and should not be racing in the lower divisions of NASCAR once achieving entry into the pinnacle of the sport.
It's like Tiger Woods playing at the amateur level again, a MLB player going down to the minors outside of a rehab assignment, or Michael Jordan playing college ball again. NASCAR, unlike any other sport, allows their top athletes to go down a level or two to whoop it up on the up-and-comers.
The reason the Nationwide Series has been dubbed "Cup Light" is because week after week, especially on companion events, the stars of the sport hop in their top-tier race cars and destroy the credibility of the lower divisions. This not only hurts the Cup Series, because it makes achieving that level less special, it hurts the lower series because they lose their own identity and opportunity for young talent to rise through the ranks.
Why are drivers like Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne losing rides and sponsors?
It's because the sponsors would rather put their money into a Cup driver since they'll be running up front without question. It's a no-brainer. Meanwhile it makes it harder and harder for new talent to advance due to lack of sponsorship and lack of good equipment to showcase their talents.
Having so many Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series also dilutes the Cup Series itself. The ongoing argument is that having these drivers achieves two goals. First, they attract a larger audience in the grandstands and on television. The evidence of that was pretty hard to see on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway, as the grandstands were not so "grand."
According to NASCAR, it was, "Before an estimated crowd of 25,000." Seriously, 25k? The pitiful LA Dodgers get more than that on a Tuesday night against the Pirates. Clearly, the Cup drivers are not bringing in the crowds. Second, it allows the younger drivers to race against these top notch drivers to learn from them—well, this may or may not be true, but sounds good on paper.
So here's my suggested solutions since keeping the Cup drivers isn't achieving anything significant.
There shouldn't be any Cup Series drivers allowed after three years of making their Cup Series debut. Why am I giving this grace period? Simple: Seat time is everything in this sport, and for developing drivers, it's needed to run both series for a while. Once you graduate after the three years under your belt, that's it, you're done going backwards, you are now a prestigious Cup Series driver and it should be an honor to get to that level.
Major League Baseball players refer to getting to the MLB as 'the show' because that is the best of the best, the top level you can be in baseball. If you keep heading back to the minors, it's because you are either injured, or you can't cut it up there.
Would you put Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, or Carl Edwards in that category?
Certainly not. I would, however, have provisions in the rules for say a driver that loses their full-time Cup ride and can only get a Nationwide Series ride to be allowed back. Drivers have to feed their families too.
By making these simple changes, the NASCAR Nationwide Series would instantly have it's identity back. "The Future Stars of NASCAR" would be one way to promote it for example. It would be a place where we can see unique cars like the Mustang and Challenger racing, and the up-and-coming driver talent with sponsors backing them for who they are. The racing would be unique, the cars would be unique, and the drivers would be unique. The alternative is watching the Cup superstars dominate week after week.
Kerry Murphey is a syndicated radio host, podcaster, and writer on all things NASCAR. Visit http://finallapradio.com to listen to his weekly podcast, video features, news, and information.