NASCAR Says No Buschwhackers Allowed: The 10 Biggest Reasons for New Rule
The Nationwide Series is about to return to the youth movement.
A check box on the NASCAR hard card form for 2011 requires competitors to declare which championship they intend to compete for this season.
The most profound result is it prevents Sprint Cup regulars from invading the Nationwide and Camping World Series and winning those championships while simultaneously competing for the Sprint Cup.
Here's a look at 10 reasons why this new rule is important.
1. Brad Keselowski, at Least Last Season
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Brad Keselowski became the latest full-time Cup invader to capture the Nationwide Championship in 2010.
2005 was the last season when a non-Sprint Cup Regular won the Nationwide title when Martin Truex Jr. won his second consecutive title.
Since then, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch have taken home the trophy while also competing in NASCAR's premiere division.
In that time, NASCAR has made a sacrifice of incoming young talent.
2. Young Talent
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Justin Allgaier was the highest finishing driver in the 2010 Nationwide standings who was not a full-time Sprint Cup driver.
Only four of the top ten finishers in the standings weren't also competing for the Sprint Cup.
Allgaier was the highest finisher at fourth place.
The new rule should create more room at the top of the standings.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The availability of Sprint Cup drivers to run for the Nationwide title has created another problem for younger drivers.
Sponsorship has gravitated towards the Cup regulars.
It's natural for a company looking to maximize their investment through sponsorship to look first towards the teams that will be up front during the race.
Logically, that search for front-running teams starts with cars piloted by Cup regulars.
The new rule may create more sponsorship opportunities for younger drivers.
4. Owners Title Just Got Really Interesting
John Harrelson/Getty Images
For those still fascinated with the performance week to week of the Cup drivers, track the owners points.
Owners will still be able to collect points regardless of the declared championship series of the driver.
Kevin Harvick Inc. will field a car for Elliott Sadler full time in the Nationwide Series, and if Harvick chooses to, he could share another car with another driver. That car would have a shot at the owners title with Harvick behind the wheel.
Look for several teams to run aggressively for the owners title with Sprint Cup regulars behind the wheel.
5. Aggressive Racing From The Cup Regulars
John Harrelson/Getty Images
Without a drivers championship to shoot for, the Cup guys in limited race deals are gunning for the trophies.
There's no need to points race when you can't collect them, so just try to notch wins.
This should create a climate where Cup drivers aggressively go after positions in the races they appear in.
The only upside for a driver not trying to win an owners title is the trip to Victory Lane.
6. A New Platform For Young Drivers
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a developing talent in NASCAR. He's not alone.
There are a number of young drivers who need the platform of the Nationwide Series to showcase their skills for the future.
With fewer Cup regulars gobbling up the spotlight, there will be more opportunities for young guys to shine.
7. A Richer Talent Pool For Sprint Cup
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Tony Stewart's exodus from Joe Gibbs Racing moved a very young Joey Logano into one of the most coveted rides in the Sprint Cup Series.
Years ago, the Nationwide Series was truly a developmental series for young drivers to prepare for the move to Sprint Cup.
It has lost that with Cup drivers loading up the fields.
As more young drivers get the opportunity to get into cars vacated at least for a few races by Cup drivers, there will be a greater base of talent for the future of Sprint Cup.
As more of these drivers develop, fans may again see the days of the "hot rookie" in the Cup Series.
8. Attracting Young Fans
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
One of the vexing problems facing NASCAR as a whole right now is the shrinking fan base.
With the emergence of young drivers due to the removal of Cup drivers as a staple in the series, younger fans will get the chance to see more drivers like them.
NASCAR needs to work to hang on to young fans that are moving to other spots on the motorsports landscape.
It's a lot easier for a new young fan to identify with a new young driver.
David Becker/Getty Images
Jeff Gordon is one of the most respected drivers in the Sprint Cup garage today.
Years ago, he was a rookie in the Nationwide Series.
In 1992, Jeff Gordon was making his name on the junior circuit in preparation for his Cup debut in the season's last event.
He was a phenom then, and his limitless potential was evident in just a few races.
There weren't a lot of Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series then drowning out his talent.
It will be interesting to try to identify the next phenom in the series, and try to attach some prediction to their performance as young drivers.
10. Brand Identification
John Harrelson/Getty Images
The Nationwide Series move to the Car of Tomorrow and the inclusion of so-called "pony cars" is starting to give the series its own distinct look.
The fields should have more of that as well.
Without the constant invasion of Cup drivers, it will help the series develop its own identity, from the look of the cars to the competitors.
The identification will allow the series to stand on its own again as opposed to being a Cup Lite series.