NASCAR: Is the Nationwide Series Considered Developmental Anymore?

Cam PierceContributor IFebruary 1, 2011

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 22:  2010 Nationwide Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Dodge, poses with the Champions trophy during the NASCAR Nationwide/Camping World Truck Series Banquet at Loews Miami Beach Hotel on November 22, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Justin Heiman/Getty Images

Nationwide Insurance is a very fitting sponsor for NASCAR's second-tier series.

Most of the drivers winning races and championships all have insurance. They all have jobs on NASCAR's biggest stage.

But what about the younger, unproven drivers? Drivers like Justin Allgaier, Parker Kligerman, Brian Scott and Colin Braun are trying to make a living in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

How can they grab any attention when drivers like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards are hogging the spotlight for themselves? How can any young talent make a name for themselves when already proven commodities are taking opportunities from them? How can any developmental driver have success when they are racing against guys from the biggest stage?

Change the rule, that's how.

Think about this: Major League Baseball has a farm system where future Major League players can develop—so should any sport, including NASCAR. Do young stars like Evan Longoria from the Rays and Ryan Howard from the Phillies go play AAA baseball just for fun? No, because their level of play is on baseball's biggest stage, the Major Leagues.

Should NASCAR allow stars like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards to race in NASCAR's AAA level, the Nationwide Series?

Sure, but with restrictions in place.

NASCAR took a step in the right direction with their recent rule change, disallowing any driver competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship from competing for the Nationwide Series Championship.

But that will not stop Sprint Cup regulars from running and, unfortunately, winning most of the races.

A way to further enforce this rule is to limit the number of Sprint Cup regulars in the race and the number of races they can run in a season.

Most Nationwide Series races have what seems like 10 Sprint Cup regulars running and dominating the races.

To help establish a younger and unproven field, limit the number of regulars participating in the race. If only three or four regulars are allowed to run each race, the outcome becomes much more interesting with new faces challenging for the victory.

Drivers like Busch, Keselowski and Edwards can still run in the Nationwide Series, but only for about five or six races. This way, most of the Sprint Cup stars become less of a factor in races designed to develop younger drivers.

Disallowing Sprint Cup regulars from running for the Nationwide Series championship was a smart move, but the rule could be altered for certain reasons.

Sprint Cup drivers could not run full time for the Nationwide Series title if they are inside the top 25 in the Sprint Cup Series points standings after the first five races. After the first five races of the Sprint Cup season, NASCAR should be able to gauge what drivers would be able to run for the Sprint Cup title.

NASCAR regulars outside the top 25 can still run for the Sprint Cup title, but would also be eligible to run for the Nationwide title as well.

Sprint Cup rookies should also be allowed to run for the Nationwide title, no matter where they are in points. The current rule prevents anyone running for the Nationwide from running for the Sprint Cup title and vice versa.

It appears that Trevor Bayne will go uncontested for the Rookie of the Year battle. He's only running a partial schedule. Under the current rule, Bayne would be ineligible to earn any Sprint Cup points and, probably, Rookie of the Year points.

If NASCAR is looking to groom young talent, they will make the Nationwide Series a truly developmental series once again.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.