As the NASCAR Xfinity series prepares for the playoff season, new rules limiting Cup driver participation can’t come soon enough for some.
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 in Richmond Friday night, giving Monster Energy Cup drivers wins in nearly 70 percent of the Xfinity races they were eligible to run in this year. This continued imbalance was supports NASCAR‘s reasons to tighten restrictions even further for 2018.
In a statement about the new rules, NASCAR’s Sr VP of racing operations Jim Cassidy said:
“Fans have made it clear that they want to see the future stars of the sport racing against their peers in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. These guidelines achieve that and preserve limited opportunities for developing drivers to compete against the best in motorsports.
Under the new rules, Cup drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the Monster Energy Cup Series will be limited to seven Xfinity races next year. Those drivers were allowed to run 10 races this year. In addition, any driver who scores Cup points will be barred from competing in the final eight races of the Xfinity series plus ineligible to run in the Dash 4 Cash races.
The rule change has been met with strong criticism from some Cup drivers, citing sagging sponsorship deals for little-known drivers. Kevin Harvick was vocal about the proposal during his SiriusXM NASCAR radio show “Happy Hours”, saying this only hurts the younger drivers:
“They want to take this Xfinity Series and they want to make it into Xfinity drivers only,” Harvick said. “Well, guess what? If you don’t race against the Cup guys and you don’t have that experience on a weekly basis of learning what those Cup guys are doing to run fast and how this sport works, all that is going to happen is you’re just going to struggle longer when you get to Cup.”
Xfinity driver Blake Koch has a different take, as he told SiriusXM NASCAR radio:
“I always like racing against my competitors that we’re racing for in points. Every single car you’re racing against, every single person, it matters and you want to beat every car. Put seven or eight Cup guys in there and they don’t really have anything to lose, they’re just going for a win and it’s a different race. It’s almost like two different races going on the race track.’’