Sunday, November 8, 2009

Frustration lives with the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2009 for me.

I’ve been watching the NASCAR (now) Nationwide Series for years now and I have to say that this year (2009) will go down in history as one of the most frustrating seasons to watch period. Where do I begin and I can’t and won’t put all of the blame on NASCAR’s shoulders neither.

The fact is, the problems are all around the series from the Cup Series drivers invading the series in every single race, the ESPN coverage focusing mainly on the Cup Series regulars and simply the domination of Toyota.

Let me example, let’s start with the ESPN coverage. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to people and work with what’s there, at the same time I am a firm believer in when it’s broke, fix it. One of the biggest reasons for the Nationwide Series is for bringing up drivers, getting them ready to run in the Cup series, but it’s also a series about putting on good racing and showcasing the regular drivers in the series.

With ESPN, they have the general basis of covering the series, but they need to fine tune it to cover the series correctly and have entertainment. With the exception of a few races this season where ESPN has highlighted most of the drivers not only racing for the win, but racing throughout the field like ORP (Indianapolis) and Watkins Glen, they seem to focus on just the Cup Series drivers. I remember watching one race, it might have been Nashville or Kentuckey where Kyle Busch was down a few laps, Carl Edwards was having troubles and they were just covering them, while another car was on fire going into the garage.

The point is, in covering a race, you have to cover the racing from 1st to the back of the pack, especially the battles in the middle of the field, damn, that is where some of the best racing is half the time. My advice would be, have two in the booth, one person at the cut away car explaining what just happened if a part brakes and a few key players on pit road covering the race itself with who changed what. Use the camera men like ESPN does in the NHRA series.

Cover the entire races from 1st to the back of the pack, do top 20 run downs and talk more about the Nationwide Series regulars. And stop covering just the Cup Series drivers and the point’s standings five races, 10 races into the season. Also check out this article on TDP on ESPN coverage.

Speaking of the Cup Series invasion, I really don’t understand this and at all of the races. The truth is, I will admit that the series does need a few cup series regulars to run and it’s great to have them. However having them run for the championship is terrible. The Cup Series drivers when they race in most of races bring a new element for the Nationwide Series regulars, a new challenge for them, can they beat them and while a few have, most haven’t.

I also believe it hurts the Cup Series drivers that are running full-time in both series like Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, yes both drivers are running well in the Nationwide Series if not winning, but in the Cup series, they aren’t. I believe the drivers should have to choose what series they want to run full-time in and part-time in. But there is no way around the Cup Series invasion, I can only say, they shouldn’t run the entire schedule, share the ride with up and coming drivers, some Nationwide series regulars that need experience, that’s one key aspect about the Nationwide Series.

The third is the JGR Toyota domination… Let me put it this way, how many races did a NASCAR Nationwide series regular win so far in 2009 and name the drivers? Two, what, Two drivers. One win for Mike Bliss and four wins for Brad Keselowski at JR Motorsports.

I ask that question to prove a point, the Cup Series invasion has yielded most of the victories some in which include four for Carl Edwards, two each for David Regan, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle, while Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart with one each.

The rest of the time has been the Toyotas. In 2009, there has been several rule changes from adding restrictor plates or restrictors on the engines and even restricting more on just the Toyota engines, however it’s done little if nothing the curve the dominations. Racing is all about having the best car, the best driver and the best team, and in most of the races, you have to have the perfect storm to win one of these, but come on, Toyota can’t have this many perfect storms.

Take this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, after winning the Truck Series race after roughing up the champion Ron Hornaday Jr., Kyle Busch dominated the field in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, leading 179 laps of 200 laps to win his 8th race of the season and pretty much lock up the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with a 279 point lead over second place Carl Edwards.

And you know it isn’t just Kyle Busch, so many times it has been a duel upfront between Joe Gibbs Toyotas, the other being Joey Logano.

I really don’t know what the answer here is, not even Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series is this good. Is Toyota putting in that much more then the Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge or what and it isn’t even Toyota, its JGR Toyota. Anyway, I understand domination, I understand when one team, driver or stable has found an advantage, but when you look at the races, especially in yesterday’s Nationwide Series race, no one could touch Kyle Busch even on old tires vs. new tires for everyone else.

All I got to say is, NASCAR needs to work on the Nationwide series, but I will say that the Nationwide series COT does look pretty good considering what the Cup series COT cars look like. The Nationwide Series needs an identity and some pony cars is a start. How about the NASCAR Nationwide Sportsmen Series?

NASCAR also needs to test the JGR cars regularly just like they do the #48 and #5 in the Cup Series, enough is enough with the Nationwide Busch Series already.

(Photo Credit: Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)