NASCAR recently announced they plan to make major changes to the Nationwide Series, citing costs as well as giving the Nationwide Series its own identity again. Here are 11 different ideas that would fulfill the above criteria without being a complete 180:
- Shorten the races. There’s absolutely no reason the spring race at Bristol needs to be 300 laps, nor do 195 laps need to be run at Atlanta. Races should run for no more than 250 laps or miles. If purses are going to be reduced, so should the races.
- Eliminate multiple practice sessions for the series and limit, if not eliminate practice time for the Cup drivers.
- Reduce the amount of trips to the West. Two trips to Phoenix are unnecessary, as was two trips to Auto Club Speedway. Why not keep the races in the south and east; where the roots of the series are? There are several fine facilities that could host events and reduce teams’ travel expenses. Road Atlanta comes to immediate mind, as do several of the short tracks the series formerly raced at.
- Instead of locking in the top 30 in owners standings, lock in the top 30 drivers attempting the whole schedule. Rookies notwithstanding, Sprint Cup drivers would not be eligible for an exemption and no more than eight Sprint Cup drivers can participate in any individual race.
- Change the structure of the purse. Teams should not be able to announce to the media they are going to start and park and send legitimate teams home. A handful of teams exist that never attempt to run a full race. Meanwhile, other drivers get sent home without even bread crumbs. In last year’s fall Bristol race, MSRP motorsports completed a total of five laps, citing an ignition issue on one car and brake issue on the other. They collected $40,669 for their “efforts” or $8,133.80 per lap. Meanwhile, Benny Gordon raced until the checkers and only collected $21,565. That’s $1,210 more than last place earned; not even enough for a set of tires. The rule should be if you withdraw from the race and can’t prove a legitimate car problem, you get a minimal amount of the purse.
- Break the series off into two different point systems. Cup drivers would not be eligible for the Nationwide championship, but instead, compete against each other. First place wins an award and a cash bonus.
- Boost the image of all Nationwide drivers in commercials and promotions, not just the young ones. By now, everyone knows that Trevor Bayne stops writing if you rattle off too many facts about him. Diversity includes the older drivers in the series, but nary a mention is made of them.
- If a Cup driver intentionally pulls a reckless move in the race, as Carl Edwards did at Gateway, park them for the year. It was reported that ML Motorsports lost one of their best race cars in the accident, as well as having to pay Earnhardt/Childress back for the damaged engine. While I have few qualms about Cup drivers racing in the series, they shouldn’t be able to put smaller teams at a major disadvantage just because they’re racing “for fun”. I have yet to hear Edwards apologize for his actions that led to that accident.
- Force Cup-affiliated Nationwide teams to use their own crew members. No more allowing a full-time Cup driver to use their Sprint Cup crew. There’s currently a huge disparity in pit stop times between the top tier teams and the underfunded teams.
The Nationwide series is a fun and exciting series to watch, but it needs change to differentiate it from the Cup. Giving other drivers a chance to shine in the spotlight carries many positives and will lead to better racing in the Cup series in the future.