“We need Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Truck Series to draw fans to the races,” they said. “Racing against more experienced competition will make Xfinity drivers better racers,” they said. So NASCAR, how’s that working for you?
Apparently, not well enough. If you think NSCS ratings are bad, Xfinity ratings are through the floor. Ever actually catch one of those races and see all the fans disguised as empty seats? Who really wants to see the likes of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano beating up on the minor league competition? Not this kid. Personally, the only Xfinity and truck series races I catch are at places where Cup races don’t occur, such as Iowa and Road America. If I want to see Cup drivers win, I’ll watch a Cup race!
Fans want a series with an identity! To some degree, you get that in the truck series, and sure enough, wins by such wunderkinds as William Byron are compelling as they duel some of the veteran drivers like Matt Crafton, who make the series their home. The Xfinity Series? Jayski reports that over 70 percent of the Xfinity Series races staged since 2011 have been won by Cup regulars. In the minds of many a fan, the Xfinity Series is nothing more than Cup Lite.
NASCAR Executive VP Steve O’Donnell says there’s a big announcement coming soon concerning the issue. Finally! Steps have been made in keeping last year’s Chase drivers out of this year’s Xfinity Series finale at Homestead. It was a nice first step, but far from enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there should be some high profile opportunities for Cup drivers to compete in a lower series at a “hometown” track, or maybe some kind of special event. Simply put, how about limiting regular Cup drivers to three races a year in the Xfinity or Truck Series. Perhaps for a Dale Earnhardt Jr. place like Daytona and Talladega might show up on his Xfinity schedule, along with a Texas. Perhaps for Denny Hamlin, it might be a Richmond or Pocano. For Kevin Harvick, it might Phoenix or Fontana, Las Vegas for the Busch brothers, or Dover for Martin Truex Jr.
If the NASCAR Xfinity Series is supposed to be a developmental series, than that’s what it should be. Let this truly be a place for a Ty Dillon or a William Byron to build their resume. If a veteran driver would rather content himself to race full-time Xfinity or Truck Series, God bless them. It works for the Elliott Sadlers and Craftons of the world, and you really rarely see those guys in Cup cars anymore. It’s kind of like those baseball journeymen who couldn’t quite make it in “the show” carving out a niche in the minors.
Finally! NASCAR, we hope you’re serious. It would really be refreshing to get to know promising young drivers as they develop.