NASCAR goes above and beyond when it comes to marketing their young talent, but it hasn’t always been that way.
One driver made it perfectly clear that he isn’t too fond of the bias shown to some of the young guns in the sports. Kyle Busch recently voiced his discontent for the comparison to the way drivers are promoted in 2018 versus his first few seasons in the mid-2000’s.
Steve Phelps, the sanctioning body’s chief global sales and marketing officer of NASCAR, told NBC Sports that at the time, the organization was more about racing and wasn’t prepared to deal with young talent being successful.
In 2018 there are various programs in place for promoting young talent such as Drive 4 Diversity, NASCAR Next, as well as the K&N Pro, Truck, and Xfinity Series.
When Busch entered the Cup Series for his first full-time season he was virtually unknown but saw success immediately. Within his first three seasons he had four wins, with two of them coming in his first season. But he didn’t have the same sort of support young drivers do today, and Phelps said Busch has a point.
“Do I think that’s fair that when he came into the sport and started winning right off the bat?” Phelps said. “Yeah, I think it’s a fair statement that we did not give that kind of support.”
Busch this week said it was “stupid” for NASCAR to focus primarily on its young drivers when there is plenty of veteran talent in the sport. Ryan Blaney didn’t agree with Busch’s comments and had some of his own to share.
“I’ve been really fortunate to get a lot of great chances from NASCAR to go do things outside of motorsports, Blaney said.
Blaney said he’s gotten a lot of opportunities from NASCAR that he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. He also said he probably gets more opportunities because he says yes to them more often.
“Maybe (Busch) doesn’t like doing it,” Blaney said. “I feel like if some drivers were more willing to do these things they’d get asked more to do it. The reason I get asked to do it a lot is because I say yes a lot, because I think it’s good for the sport and myself,” Blaney added. “I can tell you personally he doesn’t like to do a lot of stuff so that’s why they don’t ask him to do a lot of stuff.”
Phelps eluded to the fact that it’s easy to see both sides of the story and while NASCAR does a great job with promoting its young talent it also does so with its older drivers.
“We’ve got these fantastic drivers in all these national series who have the opportunity to connect with a fan, and that’s what we want them to do,” Phelps said. “Kyle does a lot for our sport. I think we expose Kyle in a good, meaningful way.”