Is it over? Kyle Busch has one scheduled more start left in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021. Busch won his 100th race earlier last month at Nashville Superspeedway and his win at Road America last weekend (July 3) put his total to 101 wins. He has mentioned in the past that once he hit 100 wins in the Xfinity Series, he would retire from the series entirely.
Saturday’s (July 10) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is scheduled to be Busch’s last start in the Xfinity Series this season. If Busch honors his word that means his last series start ever would come this weekend. That’s right: the greatest driver to ever climb in an Xfinity Series racecar would never do so again, stepping away from the series at the age of 36. Is that the right move though?
Should Busch be done with Xfinity or should he continue to compete past the 2021 season? Luken Glover and Clayton Caldwell debate.
100 is just the beginning
There are likely very few fans outside of “Rowdy Nation” who don’t want to see Xfinity regulars win. Put me down as one of those guys. And there is an argument to be made that Cup guys hinder Xfinity regulars from winning races. That is why it was a smart idea to regulate how many races a Cup driver could compete in. However, Kyle Busch should still keep pushing to race in the series in the future.
For starters, Busch’s presence provides an extra incentive for Xfinity drivers to win. He is not unbeatable in Xfinity races. In racing, no one is. In 2020, Busch made five starts in the series and won only once. Christopher Bell once said that the Cup drivers push the Xfinity drivers to win even more. It sets a mark of “if I can beat a Cup guy, then I belong here.” We’ve seen drivers like Justin Allgaier and Austin Cindric give Busch all he can handle this year. If you can beat Busch and win several races in a season, it also raises the eyebrows of owners in the Cup Series.
The promoting side of racing has also thrived with Busch. There are fans who would likely go to an Xfinity race who don’t know most of the drivers in the series. But many would know who Busch is, and that adds some extra intrigue. When you go to a sporting event, you want to see a big name or someone making headlines. Busch has successfully done that and strengthened the Rowdy Nation versus anti-Busch crowd in the process. A fairly new commercial compares Busch to the “wearer of the black hat.” That fits him and he wears that hat no matter where he is.
Additionally, from a marketing aspect, many sponsors have taken advantage of Busch’s appearances in the series. It is cheaper to sponsor an Xfinity car than a Cup car. We’ve seen several of Busch’s associates on his No. 18 Cup car appear as a primary on the No. 54 Xfinity car, as well as his primary Cup sponsor, M&M’s. Twix has boosted their sponsorship with some eye-catching schemes. Last year, Appalachian State University got an opportunity for exposure on Rowdy’s car. M&M’s has promoted products, such as M&M’s Ice Cream appearing on the car at Road America. The Candy Man has embraced the iconic image of Mars and even brought on his own company in Rowdy Energy. It’s the perfect opportunity to sponsor a NASCAR legend in the making at a cheaper cost.
Finally, Busch continues to make history with his runs in the Xfinity Series. His 100th win at Nashville listed him with only David Pearson and Richard Petty to reach such a mark in any NASCAR series. That is some pretty high-class company to be in with. Busch can only race in five Xfinity events per season, and he may not race that many in a season in the future. But the competitive side in the Las Vegas-native likely wants to reach the next goal possibly, which would be 150 wins. Busch is no stranger to making history and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to make more.
It has certainly been a hot topic over the past few years, especially in Busch’s case. And like many subjects in the realm of NASCAR, there are many people on both sides of the aisle. Cup drivers should not be allowed to race in a lower series without a fixed number in my opinion, but a limited amount like we currently see sets a challenge for the young drivers to prove just how hungry they are. — Luken Glover
It’s a Developmental Series
Kyle Busch has won 101 races in the Xfinity Series and if I were to write this piece a week later, that number is likely to increase to 102 wins. I appreciate Kyle’s desire to race as much as he’d like. It’s awesome to see someone so obsessed with the sport of racing that he can’t get enough of it, even after all of these years.
With that being said, it’s tough to watch someone completely dominate a series the way Kyle has, and to me, it totally ruins the purpose of the Xfinity Series.
I know what people are going to say: “Mark Martin did it in the 1990s. Nobody cared then.” And there is some truth to that. Martin did infiltrate the Xfinity Series back then and was winning a whole bunch of races in the Winn Dixie No. 60 car.
For the majority of Martin’s time in the No. 60 car, it was a solo-car operation. The fight was way fairer than it is today. Joe Gibbs Racing has four, sometimes five, Xfinity teams at one time.
I think that’s the biggest difference: just how closely associated the Xfinity Series teams are to the Cup Series team. Joe Gibbs Racing, for which Busch competes in both series, has crew chiefs and crew members that have been or will soon be on the Cup side of the program. JGR treats the Xfinity Series as the breeding ground for its Cup program.
So when Busch, a Cup driver with almost 60 wins in the Cup Series goes and drives in the Xfinity Series, he is doing so with a powerhouse team. Think of the experience, finances and wherewithal that Busch and his team have and then think of the same thing for a team like JD Motorsports or Jeremy Clements Racing. It’s not even close to the same team.
That’s to take nothing away from JD Motorsports or Jeremy Clements. They are what makes the Xfinity Series great and they deserve to go out and compete in this series. They are trying to make a living. That’s what the series is there for, teams like them.
It is not there for Busch to fatten his wallet and stats. You can argue all you want about the point of the Xfinity Series and why it’s even there. It started as a completely different series than the Cup Series with late model stock cars. From there, it’s evolved into the series that it is today. I believe the Xfinity Series needs an identity, and that identity shouldn’t be Cup drivers coming down and running the series with a Cup team and a Cup pit crew and competing against teams with one-tenth the budget. It’s almost like fishing with dynamite.
Plus, something that is hardly ever mentioned and is more important now than ever is the recognition certain drivers are trying to build in the NASCAR’s No. 2 series. You need to be known to get sponsorship to help your way to the Cup Series. One of the ways to do that is if you go out and win Xfinity races. If you win, you get noticed. Look at John Hunter Nemechek this season in the Camping World Truck Series. Has his stock ever been higher?
If Busch continues to dominate the series, there are less and less opportunities for young drivers to make a name for themselves. It’s a lot harder for these young drivers to get noticed when they don’t nearly have the opportunity current Cup drivers are getting.
That is not good for the series and not good for the sport as a whole. We need a series where young drivers can build a name for themselves. It’s really hard to do that running second, 15 seconds behind Busch in Cup equipment every week.
I’m not trying to minimize what Busch has done in the Xfinity Series. He’s won a ton of races and it’s impressive that he can win all those races in a competitive division like the Xfinity Series. There’s no question that his talent and ability to drive a stock car are remarkable.
However, the Cup Series is where he should showcase that talent. The Xfinity Series should be a developmental series and not a series infiltrated by Cup regulars. Busch should give up running Xfinity Series races and should have a long time ago. – Clayton Caldwell