Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: We Don’t Need Our Busch Whacked

After a one-week hiatus, we’re back with the spiciest column the NASCAR Xfinity Series has to offer, and I got to do a lot of thinking during the break.

What did I think about?

I’m glad you asked.

Buschwhacking.

No, not the kind you begrudgingly do in the yard, although the thought did occur to me during that activity. I’m talking about NASCAR Cup Series drivers bumping down to the Xfinity Series to get some practice laps in before their race on Sunday.

See also
Quin Houff Grateful for Time in NASCAR, Doesn't Have Itch to Return

For those new to the concept, in 2011, NASCAR forced drivers to select only one of their top three series to accrue drivers points in to compete for the championship of said series. This move was meant to protect Xfinity drivers from Cup drivers with more experience, talent and deeper pockets from coming into the series and walking away with the championship (ex. Kyle Busch and others in the late 2010s).

Has it worked?

Somewhat.

Obviously, only full-time Xfinity drivers are eligible for the championship now, but that hasn’t stopped guys like Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson from dropping down and making some races (like Sonoma Raceway) a one or two-car show, which is the exact opposite of the Xfinity Series when Cup drivers don’t show up.

So far this season, there have been three races won by full-time Cup drivers, and if the odds play out like they have recently, it will be four after this weekend. That’s three or four potential playoff spots that have been stolen away from an Xfinity full-timer that needs the spotlight that opportunity brings far worse than a Cup driver with millions in earnings over the course of their career.

I wholeheartedly understand why Cup drivers want the extra laps – it makes them that much more dangerous on Sundays – but at what cost does that come if they just wax the floor with the talent of the series that people tune in to see week in and week out?

We always talk about this “image problem” that the Xfinity Series has on NASCAR’s behalf, and Buschwhacking is another piece of that puzzle. Fans will not tune in if they know who’s going to win every week. Look across the pond at the recent Formula 1 season – it’s been boring as all get out, with no correction (or competition) in sight.

See also
Josh Berry Replacing Kevin Harvick at SHR

If NASCAR wants to help themselves, they can start by making the stars of the Xfinity Series the only stars. Each time a Cup driver bumps down, every camera at the track is on them at all hours of the day. Is that because they’re typically at the front of the field? Possibly, but they also take the spotlight away from the incredible talent that are regulars in the series, like the current points leader John Hunter Nemechek, or the oval racing wizard that is Austin Hill.

NASCAR can start by propping up the stars of the Xfinity Series and leaving out the Cup drivers entirely. If Cup drivers want to compete, they should have to do so in cars that would not interfere with the other Xfinity drivers. Essentially, NASCAR could have two races going on at the same time. Give the Cup drivers’ cars 50 less horsepower, or start them at completely different stages of the race. It would still allow them to get their laps in but wouldn’t interfere with the actual Xfinity race.

The flip side of that is that these cars that Cup drivers are piloting are eligible for owner’s points, and that is something I believe should be done away with entirely. Before the season starts, teams should have to pick the cars they want to be eligible for their owner’s points, and they should be required to run a full-time season. This would keep team resources focussed on their full-time Xfinity drivers on Saturdays and less focussed on the Cup drivers who make their cameos.

We do not need our Busch whacked. The Xfinity Series is great because of the full-time talent that’s in it, and no Cup drivers need to pitch in to help. The series will grow if NASCAR can put the focus on the right people, the right racing and the right situations organically.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

6 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brian Lovejoy

The problem you describe is easy to fix. The issue is that the non-point eligible drivers are taking points away, especially playoff points, from the Xfinity regulars.

Just don’t count the non regulars in that at all. If JHN wins over Kyle Busch with Justin Algaier 3rd, JHN obviously gets 1st place points and Algaier gets 3rd place points, right?

Busch gets no points in any scenario, so only count the points eligible drivers.

JHN gets 1st, Algaier gets 2nd place points.

If Busch beats JHN in that same scenario, JHN gets 1st place points (and the win to lock him in the playoffs), and Algaier still gets 2nd place points. The winner’s purse and the trophy still goes to Busch.

That way, the Xfinity guys still get to race against the best, and there’s no disruption of the points system along the way.

Apply that same system to the Truck series (and Cup for that matter) and let them race. Having Cup series drivers with experience and earned financing is better than the “Daddy’s money” group of hacks they have now. Every time.

Last edited 10 months ago by Brian Lovejoy
Jeremy

Great headline! Reminds me of the 70’s.

Totally agree that the lower series should do more to promote the up and coming talent without using Cup drivers as a crutch to prop up ratings/sell tickets. OR, if they want to use the Cup drivers to prop up ratings/sell tickets (or arguably to show the up and comers what they’ll be up against in Cup), then the cup drivers should basically be like a ghost car in video games. They’re a marker, their finishing position doesn’t count and they do not get any points nor prize money. So if they finish 1st it doesn’t count, the first Xfinity driver is declared the winner and receives points/prize money for winning. Same with other positions, score it like the Cup driver isn’t even there. No owner points/prize money for the Cup driver either. Owner points/prize money should only be awarded if the car is driven by an Xfinity driver.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jeremy
Bill B

Good one!! LOL
So there is no incentive for any Cup driver to enter a lower series race in this scenario, unless they want to spend a bunch of money and drive for free and lose a lot of money if the car is wrecked..
I like it.

Oldguy

I would rather watch a Sunday show on Saturday than watch what we have had on Saturdays for the last decade.

Ray VanBuren

Maybe Nascar should quit making the races for all three touring series as companion races. For instance, Charlotte races the Cup series on Memorial Day weekend. Then the Xfinity series can come in on the following weekend followed by the Craftsman Truck series the weekend after that. This will make it nearly impossible for the Cup drivers to travel back and forth allowing the series regulars to get the spotlight they deserve. Plus it helps the race tracks by having more races without having to sit empty for months on end.

Shayne

Nobody was attending the Busch races without Cup drivers? I’d love to review the analytics used to make that true.

Lots of empty seats at most Cup venues now.
Captain Obvious

Share via