Sixteen races...one winner.
That is the reality these days in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In sixteen races between these two series, only one win has come from a series regular. The other fifteen races were won by NASCAR Cup Series regulars.
Since the early 2000s this has become the norm. In the past, drivers like Martin Truex, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all made names for themselves winning races in these lower series.
While a few cup drivers would occasionally dip down in the series, the series regulars won races and had a chance to prove themselves.
Young drivers no longer get this chance.
NASCAR knows it is a problem. Beginning this season, after years of cup drivers winning the Nationwide Series championship, NASCAR requires that drivers choose one series to acquire points and pursue championship.
The hope was that this change would deter cup series drivers from participating in such a large percentage of races in lower series.
So far, it has not helped.
All you have now is a Nationwide Series top ten in points with no race winners, the truck series only has one.
As the Gordons, Martins and Earnhardts reach the middle and end of their careers, who will replace them? There are no Earnhardt/Kenseth battles going on in the lower series. There is no Carl Edwards doing backflips in the truck series. There is no Greg Biffle, who won a championship in both of the lower series.
There is no future.
Why would NASCAR allow this at all? Does the MLB allow major league players to highlight AA?
Can Kobe Bryant go back and play in the NCAA tourney?
Can Peyton Manning go back and play in the Sugar Bowl?
Unfortunately, in the current economy, many feel that the only way to sell tickets is to allow the fields to include cup regulars, the more the better.
It has caused some to call the Nationwide series "Cup Lite."
While ticket sales today are important, driver development for tomorrow is more important.
No sponsor is going to take a chance on a cup rookie that has never won a race in the Nationwide series. What is there to sell? Top tens do not sell, winners sell.
If NASCAR does not make a serious change to limit Cup driver participation in these two series, the development of the next Busch, the next Hamlin, the next Earnhardt...may never happen.