Kyle Busch: Is He Single-Handedly Ruining the Nationwide Series?

Paul Carreau@@PaulCarreauAnalyst IMarch 1, 2011

AVONDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on February 26, 2011 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

If you weren't able to catch this past weekend's Nationwide Series race from Phoenix International Raceway, you didn't miss much.

It was a 200-lap event that saw Kyle Busch start from the pole, and then lead every lap en route to his 44th career win in the series. Busch is so dominant in the Nationwide Series that it may be safe to start assuming that he could be single-handedly ruining what is left of integrity in the Nationwide Series.

First and foremost, for a lot of people, the Nationwide Series has already lost a lot of credibility over the last few years. Now that Nationwide victory lanes are constantly being dominated by Sprint Cup regulars, it has turned into nothing more than a glorified practice session for a handful of the sport's top stars.

Over the last five seasons, the Nationwide Series champion has been a Sprint Cup Series regular who was running "double duty," including Busch himself in 2009. The series used to be filled with up-and-coming young stars who were trying to make a name for themselves, and get elevated to the next level.

Now, due in large part to sponsorship demands, only a handful of the front runners of the series are non Cup competitors, and most of those guys are proven drivers who have been in the sport for many years, with previous stints in the Sprint Cup Series.

It is becoming apparent that the days of guys like a young Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. trying to learn the ropes of the sport via the Nationwide Series are gone. Days when Brian Vickers and Scott Riggs were battling week in and week out for the championship have flown by the wayside. And the days when Jeff Green, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick were winning championships, without ever having set foot in a Sprint Cup Series car are long gone.

In today's Nationwide Series, you just don't see that anymore. It is obvious that the drivers who don't currently also run in the top series are at a major disadvantage. At this point there are only a handful of Nationwide Series only drivers who could even be considered as having a chance to win a race this year.

Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler would have to be the top two names on that short list, and even then you are looking at two drivers with extensive Sprint Cup Series experience.

Even so, we have come to terms that the Nationwide Series will probably never be the same again. But, Kyle Busch with his dominance of the series is almost turning it into a laughing-stock.

He is seemingly so far ahead of the rest of the competition in the series that the races themselves are almost becoming a moot point, as it is almost inevitable that at the end of the day, Busch will once again be in victory lane.

In 204 career starts in the series, Busch has scored 44 wins. That is a win percentage of better than 20 percent. To expand further on that though, since 2008, Busch has competed in 96 events and won 33 of them. That is a win percentage of 34 percent of that stretch.

That means that for every three races Busch enters, he wins. He has scored 77 top 10 finishes in those 96 races, and 66 of those ended in the top five.

It may not be fair to blame Busch. In fact, it may be easier to point the finger of blame at the man who Busch is chasing for the all time wins lead in the series, Mark Martin.

Over the course of his Nationwide Series career, Martin has put up eerily similar numbers to Busch. Their win percentages, as well as top 10 percentages, are nearly identical. So, it only makes sense that they are currently first and second in all time wins in the series.

It just seems easier to say that Busch is ruining the series because now, compared to when Martin was racking up his wins, the sport and series have so much more national exposure. Not to mention the vast differences in personalities between Martin and Busch.

Martin is a very humble and relatively soft spoken man, whereas Busch is the polar opposite. His arrogance, and sometimes poor attitude make him an easy target.

So, while Busch is certainly doing nothing wrong by racing in the Nationwide Series, and can't be blamed for having talent or good equipment to drive, it only seems fair then to blame him for the possible demise of the Nationwide Series.

While it would be nice to see some fresh faces in victory lane in the series, and a return to a time when winning races and championships in the Nationwide Series actually meant something, as long as Busch continues to race, don't expect that any time soon.