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What to do about Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series?

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By Lee Montgomery

The rumors are flying again about NASCAR perhaps limiting participation by Sprint Cup drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

It's a subject that's been in the series, well, ever since it started. And it's a subject that I've written a lot about in the past five years.

My take?

It's about time.

There are plenty of reasons why Cup drivers should be allowed to race in the series. Proponents will say it's a free country, they help define other drivers, they help sell tickets, they bring sponsorship, etc.

Blah, blah blah.

Darrell Waltrip took the proponents' position via his Twitter account on Thursday night. They are some of the same tired arguments we've heard for years. 

But times have changed. And the series needs to, too.

Rarely do I see comments from fans supporting Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series, especially when it comes to the championship. The last time a non-Cup driver won the Nationwide title was when the series wasn't called the Nationwide Series (Martin Truex Jr. in 2005).

Fans simply want to see Nationwide-only drivers winning Nationwide championships and races. What's so wrong with that?

I am often asked by non-racing fans why so many Cup drivers race in the Nationwide Series, for you don't see major-league players in other sports competing on the Triple-A level. It's a good question, and the answer, clearly, is money.

Oh, sure, some drivers truly love to race. But if the money wasn't there, you'd see a lot fewer Cup guys in Nationwide. Maybe one way to solve this problem is to tell Cup drivers, "OK, you want to race in Nationwide. Go ahead. Start your own team." Not sure how you'd police that, but there would be a lot fewer Cup drivers, for sure.

The arguments for limiting Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series are long and complicated, and one of these days I'll truly tackle all the issues. The Nationwide Series has become something it wasn't when it started back in 1982, and while hardly anyone wants to go back to those days, the series could use some adjustments.

Limiting Cup drivers is a good way to start.