NASCAR Needs CUP Drivers in Nationwide and Truck Series to Maintain Fan Interest

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IMay 26, 2011

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 22:  A general view of the grandstands prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2009 in Bristol, Tennessee. The sign on the grandstands signifies Mark Martin's start from the pole position in the Sharpie 500 for his 1000th start of his NASCAR career.  (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Justin Heiman/Getty Images

It is indeed a hot topic with some when the CUP drivers infiltrate the lower NASCAR series intended to be developmental for the drivers who may one day be stars at the top level in the sport.

The whiners are quick to complain about the domination of CUP drivers in the second and third tier of NASCAR's top series.

Truth be told, attendance will continue slipping from the already light turnout we have at most of the tracks for the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

Television ratings are hardly impressive for the lower series even with Cup drivers dominating. Some fans will make an extra effort to attend a race or watch on television with the special appearances of Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Danica Patrick.

There is a lot of great talent in first-class equipment that make up the regulars of the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

Until those drivers achieve wins against the CUP drivers, show some good rivalries and unique personalities, the series will flounder without the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

There has to be some draw for the fans. Currently there just isn't much more reason to watch a Nationwide race than there is to watch a K&N Pro Series race without some star power.

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The fans that travel to watch the up and coming drivers, who may one day be superstars, are hardly fighting for tickets, especially with the economic times that currently exist.

Even the great venue of Bristol Motor Speedway had a fan turnout for the last Nationwide series race that verged on embarrassing.

NASCAR is trying to be as fair as possible with drivers in the lower series. They forced the drivers to choose a series thereby eliminating CUP drivers from contending for the championship against the future stars.

NASCAR isn't about to eliminate CUP drivers from the lower series. Pure business sense precludes them from such a move.

Those who feel allowing CUP drivers in the Nationwide and Truck series serves injustice to the regular drivers in those series just need to get over it, as do the drivers who complain about them.

Until the young stars like Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, Reed Sorenson, Steven Wallace and so many others step up and beat the CUP drivers, all is fair.

Stenhouse Jr. challenged Carl Edwards at Iowa Speedway and snatched the win with both driving Roush Fenway Racing equipment.

Even former CUP drivers like Elliott Sadler and Jason Leffler can't seem to beat Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards.

CUP drivers also set an example during Nationwide races that provide guidance like showing them the line to drive on the track and making moves to gain advantage.

Prior to the Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway, Austin Dillon told an ABC television pit reporter, "It's good to race against the CUP drivers, so we can go out and prove ourselves."

Sadler was the pre-season pick to grab the NASCAR Nationwide championship with his KHI equipment.

He is currently in the points lead and in theory is a CUP driver that no longer had a good ride in that series.

The Nationwide series is designed to be developmental for young drivers, but many veteran drivers remain in the series or drop back from CUP to run there.

The NASCAR media transcript of the press conference Brian France had in Charlotte prior to the Sprint All-Star race addressed CUP drivers in the Nationwide series.

France stated, "I think you're going to see us take a slow, steady look at making sure that we're getting the most out of the Nationwide series which needs to be analogous to college football and being able to build some stars that come from Saturday to Sunday for us."

France added, "We'll be looking at ways to enhance the young drivers and their talents, and new owners, for that matter, in the Nationwide and other national series that don't just get this, you know, [proliferation] of CUP drivers to the point where it just homogenizes Saturday and Sunday."

It is all about competition and a good show for the fans. The best of the regular drivers have the same level of equipment as the CUP drivers who compete against them, even though their budgets are tighter.

If drivers are to be future stars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, they best amp up their on-track showing.

It's time to stop whining about CUP drivers dominating in the lower series.

If they don't continue to race there, those series will face a slow death with sponsors dropping out and fans turning away unless Brian France has some swell tricks up his sleeve.

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