The Nationwide Series is going in a better direction than the Cup Series
In something that’s become a weekly tradition for me for years now, I got a phone call from my brother following the conclusion of yesterday’s Nationwide race in Montreal to discuss the NASCAR weekend that was. Like everyone who watched the exciting ending, one that included Boris Said drag racing off the final corner and eventually nipping fellow road-course ace Max Papis at the stripe in a photo finish, my brother was happy just to see a climactic end to a stock car race. Sharing in his enthusiasm, I understand the rush that comes with watching a down-to-the-wire event just like anybody else… but it was a comment he made during the conversation that really made me think:
The Nationwide Series is better than the Cup Series right now. They race on cooler tracks and they have exciting drivers.
It’s an argument I’ve made in the past and while the drivers I’m sure he’s referring to – Papis, Said and Jacques Villeneuve – have all competed in the Cup Series in the past year, if you look at the top 10 from Montreal you’ll see a who’s who of the future of our sport. Drivers Parker Kligerman, Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne will all one day grace the weekly starting grid on Sundays, bringing a youthful enthusiasm that contrasts the dominance of the current Cup regulars. And in regards to the “cooler” tracks… I couldn’t agree more. Not only do they compete on an additional two road courses – a twist to the schedule I believe strongly in – they also compete on other tracks like Iowa and Gateway that break free from the cookie-cutter mold you so frequently see on the Cup side.
Obviously, my brother and I are not in the minority on our beliefs in the Nationwide Series, as TV ratings are up on a near-weekly basis. Factor in the new, sleeker muscle car design and the potential lockout of Cup guys competing for the championship next year, and you have the recipe for a series that can continue to succeed long-term.
A two-car team is just what Richard Petty Motorsports needs
News that Richard Petty said this week that RPM will field a two-car team in 2011 with AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose as its two drivers should be music to the ears of fans of ‘Dinger and the Aussie. As evidenced by the success of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing this season, a two-car team can and should succeed in today’s NASCAR. The current four-team incarnation of the organization will change in the offseason, as Kasey Kahne moves to Red Bull and Paul Menard to Childress, leaving all of the resources to the No. 9 and No. 43. Rarely do you see a four-car program have all four entries competitive on a weekly basis (see Roush/Hendrick) and when Childress scaled back the No. 07 of Casey Mears recently, you saw that program turn around instantly with three cars instead of four.
The maturation of both Allmendinger and Ambrose has been evident each and every year and with the team’s workload cut from four to two, I expect another step in a positive direction for RPM as a whole. Don’t be surprised to see Allmendinger or Ambrose fighting for that final Chase spot at this time next year.