We've all heard the cries: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are ruining the Nationwide Series by running both full time.
Guys like Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards are taking up valuable rides in the lower series, cutting the number of opportunities for up—and—coming drivers like Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne.
These complaints are well—founded.
This year, only two drivers without a full time Cup ride, Boris Said and Justin Allgaier, have won Nationwide Series races. Five of the top 10 drivers in Nationwide Series are full time Cup drivers. Three Cup drivers (well, I guess you could say four if you count Joe Nemechek) are running the Nationwide series full time.
Brad Keselowski, one of these double—dippers, has amassed a nearly insurmountable championship lead, up 485 points on fellow moonlighter Carl Edwards. He can clinch the championship next weekend at Texas by finishing in the top half of the field.
Keselowski's championship run, however, shouldn't invoke the same type of outrage brought on by past double—dippers.
The outcry against Cup Series drivers competing for both Cup and Nationwide championships started in 2006, when Kevin Harvick won nine Nationwide Series races en route to the championship. That same year, Harvick won five Cup races, posting 15 top—five and 20 top—10 finishes, finishing fourth in the Cup standings.
In 2007, Carl Edwards beat David Reutimann for the Nationwide Series championship. Edwards finished ninth in Cup Series points with three wins, 11 top—fives, and 15 top—10s. In 2008, Clint Bowyer took the NNS crown, but also finished fifth in Cup Series points with one win, 7 top—fives and 17 top—10s.
It was that 2009 saw the first non—Chaser lock up the NNS championship, but that was Kyle Busch, who barely missed the Chase, and outperformed various Chase drivers over the balance of the season. Still, Busch finished with four wins, nine top—fives, and 13 top—10s in the Cup series.
Clearly these Cup drivers are ruining the Nationwide Series.
They're obviously just hungry to pad their stats and their resumes. Perhaps they're out to demoralize the drivers of tomorrow. We need to stop this, right?
Not so fast... Take a look at Keselowski's stats. Sure, he has a full-time Cup ride, but does that really make a difference?
After 32 NSCS races, Keselowski is a less—than—stellar 25th in points. He sits between not—so—notable drivers Regan Smith and Marcos Ambrose in the standings. He has no wins and no top—fives. His only top—10, and his season best finish, was a 10th place finish last weekend at Martinsville.
Clearly, considering these stats, Keselowski's performance doesn't fit the mold of the typical Cup star sandbagging the Nationwide Series. After all, would anyone care if Regan Smith or Marcos Ambrose were up nearly 500 points in NNS standings?
My guess is this year, people are griping more about Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series because they don't really like Brad Keselowski or 12-race-winner Kyle Busch.