By: Drew Hierwarter
After years of whining by the fans about those pesky “interlopers” from the Sprint Cup series coming “down” and stealing races away from the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series guys, NASCAR finally decided to do something about it.
What the boys in the offices in Daytona came up with was the requirement that, before the start of the season, a driver must declare which of the three touring series he intends to compete for the championship. If said driver declares to run for the Sprint Cup championship for example, he cannot earn points in the other two series. The thinking was that if the Cup guys can’t earn points in the other series, why bother competing there, thus opening more opportunities for full time Nationwide or truck series drivers to win. How has that worked out so far? Not so good.
As of this writing there have been 8 races in the Nationwide Series. Kyle Busch, a Cup driver, has won four. Carl Edwards has won twice, and Mark Martin and Tony Stewart have one win each. In all but one or two of those races, Cup drivers have finished in the first three or four positions.
Now just because all of these guys aren’t earning any points doesn’t mean that the highest placing series regular gets first place points. Oh no, it doesn’t work like that. In Nashville on Saturday, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished fifth behind Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and winner Carl Edwards. Stenhouse still only got fifth place points. There simply were no points awarded for first through fourth.
Currently, Stenhouse and Justin Allgaier are tied for first place in the Nationwide series with 264 points each. Neither driver has won; Stenhouse has two top fives and six top tens, while Allgaier has one top 5 and four top tens.
Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch have both said they will run as many Nationwide races as possible this year so the prospects for winning by the series regulars looks pretty slim. It is entirely likely that the 2011 Nationwide Series champion will be crowned without having won a single race.
I’m sure that’s not what NASCAR intended when they decided on this “one series only” points system. Sprint Cup drivers may not be earning points in the Nationwide Series, but they are still taking points away from the full time series regulars.