Brandon Daun · Monday May 9, 2005
In the world of NASCAR, several questions are asked while little answers are found. For example, why is it that Dale Earnhardt, Junior can rarely ever thank his sponsors after an event? Why is it ok for hard liquor and male enhancement products to advertise in NASCAR, but not for cigarette and tobacco companies? Another question that leaves me scratching my head; why are Nextel Cup drivers allowed to race in the NASCAR Busch series?
Many years ago, there was an unspoken tradition in racing the NASCAR ranks. A driver would bide their time in the Busch ranks, and then after consistent success would be able to advance to NASCAR’s premier division. Drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Junior, Kevin Harvick, and even Mark Martin spent years racing in the Busch series before making their debut in Nextel Cup competition. Today, Nextel Cup driver involvement is helping to taint the opportunities of success for the underexperianced drivers. All to frequently this season, these Buschwackers have used their experience and their money to dominate the Busch series competition every weekend.
No need to look in the history books for evidence, the 2005 season is proof enough that Nextel Cup drivers need to limit their involvement in the Busch series. Eleven races into the Busch series season, and only two Busch series regulars have earned wins. Rookie driver Reed Sorenson earned his first career win at Nashville, and 2004 Busch series champ Martin Truex, Junior earned victories in Mexico and Talladega. With the exception of these two drivers, every victory lane celebration has involved a Nextel Cup driver. Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Kevin Harvick have all won races this season in the Busch series. Taking a look at the points standings, one can find something amiss about the rankings. Carl Edwards is contending for the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship and Rookie of the Year honors, however he has also taken the lead in the Busch series. Greg Biffle is ninth in the season standings, however he has only made nine out of 11 possible starts this season. At Bristol, the Sharpie Professional 250 featured thirteen Nextel Cup drivers. At Texas, twelve Cup drivers qualified for the O’Reilly 300. On a weekly basis, these drivers bring their money and their talent to the ranks of the Busch series, and often times dominate the field. Their involvement virtually destroys any attempts at the Busch series regulars who are racing for an attempt at the spotlight.
There are several courses of action that can be taken to ensure top quality racing among the Busch series regulars and the Nextel Cup drivers. First, limit the number of races Nextel Cup drivers can compete in. If a Cup driver, such as Carl Edwards, attempts the full season, he should be considered a full time Busch driver. However, if a driver only wishes to race a handful of races, they should be limited to a set number. Perhaps the most effective solution to aid the Busch series would be to put a salary cap on the teams involved. If every team was only allowed to spend X amount of dollars, teams with a lot of money would no longer hold the advantage. Less demand would be placed on the technical aspect of the sport, giving every team a chance at victory lane.
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