There is an argument made by some about the current state of the Nationwide Series that I will never understand. It’s this idea that somehow NASCAR and the tracks benefit by having more Cup drivers in the NNS fields. The belief is that more fans will buy a Saturday ticket if Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, and many others are in the field. I’ve never seen any actual data or evidence to back this idea up, and until I do, I’m going to call BS. If you want to see Cup drivers, you buy a Cup ticket. If you want to see NNS drivers, you buy an NNS ticket. If you want to see the Trucks, you buy a Truck ticket. Isn’t that the whole reason we have three different series?
Sirius and MRN’s Dave Moody had a blog post up today about how the points changes for this season have had their intended affect. We currently have a tight battle in the standings among the NNS regulars, and we still have the Cup drivers racing and winning (which is supposedly what ticket sellers want). He also notes that some of these NNS regulars are getting more attention than they have previously. After reading through his piece, I have to say that I would tend to agree with most of his points.
But while I’m not totally against Cup drivers driving in lower series, I do feel that they shouldn’t necessarily be allowed to do it full time. While they may or may not sell more tickets, I think they make it easier for the teams to track down sponsorship dollars. For companies, sponsoring a Cup driver in the Nationwide Series is a win/win proposition. They get the exposure and notoriety of a Cup driver, but for a much lower price.
Selling race tickets is a different situation though.
The whole idea of having lower series is to give more teams and drivers the opportunity to race. They are supposed to be a place for drivers to learn and gain experience, and hopefully earn a chance to move up. And the people who actually buy race tickets know this. They appreciate the series for what they are, and are not looking for Cup lite races.
If the fans only want to see Cup drivers race, than instead of having different series, we should have race weekends where we have three Cup races instead of just one. As our friend and TNI regular Neon suggests regularly, we could do short heat races on Friday and Saturday in advance of a main on Sundays. That way fans could pay less for tickets earlier in the weekend, but still see Cup drivers. And if that’s what the fans really want, than great. But don’t sell something as a developmental series, and then allow it to become that lite version of your top series.
In my own opinion I’d much rather watch a bunch of young and journeymen drivers duke it out, with maybe a scattered Cup driver or two, than watch a “developmental” series where half the field is Cup drivers. Like my title says, if I want to watch Cup drivers, I’ll buy a Cup ticket.