A long overdue change is being made by NASCAR. Starting next season, further restrictions will be placed on the practice of “Buschwhacking” by established Cup drivers. Finally. For the uninitiated, Buschwhacking harkens back to the days of when the Xfinity was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and its Busch brand. Over the years, notable Cup drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano have continued to drive with regularity. Sure, you can’t blame them for wanting to race more, win more and make more money. No doubt, their sponsors loved it too.
The problem, as seen from here, is the Xfinity Series lacked a true identity. Sure, it was billed as a developmental series, but is that really what it has been? It hasn’t seemed that way for a long time. It’s frankly kind of lame to have champions with one or two wins, while the Buschwhackers grab a lion’s share of the headlines. That’s not to say having a small number of Cup veterans in races is good for the youngsters. One can further submit that when a Cup star is racing in his back yard, or driving at an old favorite, that it’s good for the fans. But to enter 20-25 races a season? No.
You can further make the argument that the journeyman drivers no longer racing in Cup fill the need for a veteran presence to school the youngsters. You see similar in other sports. It’s not unusual to see some Crash Davis type playing AAA ball in baseball’s minor leagues. Over in the truck series, the Ron Hornadays and Johnny Bensons kind of those races a kind of blue collar feel. Otherwise, the practice of Buschwhacking looks like nothing more than stat padding. It’s like a college athlete playing in a middle school game.
One thing that is also good with this new rule is that the young Cup drivers looking to build experience still get to earn seat team in the lower series. No one would argue there isn’t a benefit to a transitioning driver like a William Byron or a Ty Dillon getting valuable experience. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick don’t need it.
It’s interesting to read who doesn’t like it. Predictably, Kyle Busch doesn’t like it. Neither does Brad Keselowski. Sorry gentlemen, you’re time has come and gone. You can still race Xfinity and CWTS a little, but your Buschwhacking days are done.
The idea this will hurt track attendance is a straw man argument. At many tracks, the attendance can’t be worse than it already is. Now, when you see a Bubba Wallace or a Ryan Truex with a genuine chance to win, the event takes on a new significance.
One thing could make Xfinity better. More races at venues where the Monster Energy Cup Series doesn’t go. Think back to the days of the old Sportman’s Series. Guys like Ralph Earnhardt needed to stay closer to home for financial reasons- among other things- and drivers like the original racing Earnhardt, Tommy Ellis and Sam Ard built a name for themselves in a circuit that had a completely different flair.
It’s long overdue, NASCAR, but you got this one right.