There's a part of me that feels bad for the guys who are full-time Nationwide drivers. Here these guys are, running their hearts out for a possible chance at the big time, and here come a couple of big-name Sprint Cup drivers, not just getting into potential field-scrambling wrecks, but acting like the Nationwide series doesn't matter! (To be fair, to them it doesn't.)
Short version: Hamlin spun Bowyer on a restart, then Bowyer came back out onto the track and turned Hamlin while the race was still under caution.
Strangely, Hamlin wasn't given back his original position, but he understood why he got turned.
Bowyer, for his part, got summoned to the NASCAR hauler for a little talking-to, but didn't express a whole lot of regret or worry afterward. "I don’t have any beef with Denny," Bowyer said. "We get along fine. … Racing Late Models coming up through my career … if I wrecked somebody on the restart like that, they come back and crash me exactly like that. It was pretty much tit for tat ... I'm over it."
Hamlin, for his part, offered up a quote that was subtly damning of the entire Nationwide series: "He knows there's nothing that can happen to him in a Nationwide car." Translation: Bowyer, and any other Sprint-level driver, can afford to dish out (and take) punishment in the Nationwide series because there's absolutely no effect on his day job.
But what about the guys for whom this is a day job? The first Hamlin-Bowyer wreck took out at least two Nationwide regulars. And while few tears are being shed for the Nationwide guys out of a race, the whole issue of Sprint drivers in Nationwide is a lightning rod for discussion -- and the fact that some drivers take it so lightly is more fuel for the, um ... lighting rod? Whatever. You know what I mean.
Yes, with so much on the line in Sprint Cup, you can understand why the Sprint-level drivers would look at the Nationwide series as a glorified practice session. But I can also see why a guy like Jason Keller, who just made his 500th start in the Nationwide series, might not be so thrilled at that prospect.
- Nationwide series