Old guys vs. young guys.
That’s the battle brewing this offseason in NASCAR. Kyle Busch has been on the attack recently, and he’s criticized NASCAR’s promotion of younger drivers. His brother, Kurt, agreed with his stance that NASCAR is focusing too much on drivers who haven’t accomplished as much on the track.
Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace have been critical of Kyle Busch’s stance, and this is likely a debate that will continue throughout the season. NASCAR analyst Phillip Bupp of The Comeback argued that it’s actually a good thing Busch is speaking his mind because it sets up a rivalry between veteran drivers and the younger generation.
“What has happened has been a war of words between some of the veteran drivers of NASCAR and the younger drivers who just entered the sport,” Bupp wrote. “And if NASCAR plays their cards right, we may have the makings of a multi-driver rivalry that could dominate the sport in the short term.”
Bupp said both sides have a point in the debate, but Busch’s argument comes up short because NASCAR currently doesn’t have the veteran star power that it did when he was an up-and-comer.
“NASCAR responded that they see Kyle’s point and agree with parts of that,” Bupp said. “It’s no secret that NASCAR has focused more on younger drivers now and no one can really blame them. With Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring … NASCAR needs stars and fast. And it’s a way smarter marketing strategy to promote a driver who is more likely to be in the sport another couple decades than one who may not be racing in a decade.
“Unfortunately for Kyle Busch, he entered NASCAR at a time where drivers like Gordon, Stewart and Dale Jr. were on the track so NASCAR didn’t need to focus on younger drivers, despite Gillette having a program called the ‘Gillette Young Guns’ which marketed younger NASCAR drivers that included Kyle Busch.”
Not all veteran drivers agree with Kyle Busch. Kevin Harvick spoke out against Busch’s comments and said Busch sounded whiny. But it might be good for the sport if it could pit veteran drivers like the Busch brothers against drivers like Blaney and Wallace. There’s already a rivalry brewing between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, and that’s also a young driver vs. old driver.
This situation could turn into a very good one for NASCAR, and it could certainly help engage with fans in 2018.