You can be forgiven for focusing the entirety of your NASCAR love on the Sprint Cup series. After all, that's where the big dogs like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and (with rare exception) Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. run. It's the marquee series, the one that dominates your Sunday afternoon viewing and week-long headlines. The Nationwide? Yeah, that's nice and all, but -- minor leagues, right?
Maybe so, but damn, there's some fine racing going on there. Many of the season's best races -- and most dramatic -- have taken place during those so-called "minor league" races. Like, for instance, Sunday's heart-stopping showdown in Montreal, won by -- Boris Said? Wait a second, that can't be right ...
So why are the Nationwide races so good? Let us consider the ways ...
• They're shorter. Sunday's four-hour monster excepted, most Nationwide races are hundreds of miles/laps shorter than their big brothers. That means less time to settle in and ride around the track waiting for the final 30 laps.
• There's not as much at stake for the big guys. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and the other Sprint-level drivers who run in the Nationwide series are racing for exposure, sponsor coin and the love of racing. What they're not racing for is the crown jewel -- the Sprint Cup. That allows them to take more chances and race more loose than they otherwise would in a series where one wreck could torpedo your season.
• The cars look different! This doesn't have much to do with the races themselves, but the new-look Nationwide cars are important to a segment of fans out there. So there you go.
• The rookies add that extra level of drama. The barrier to entry is far lower in Nationwide than Sprint, which means you've got a contingent of drivers who -- let's be gentle here -- may not necessarily be in the class of talent as a Kyle or a Carl. And when they're all on the track together, you're only one tire-slip from anarchy!
• Danica! Why no, this point has absolutely no connection to the one above. Why would you think that?
All right, I turn it over to you. Do you watch the Nationwide races? Why or why not? Have at it, friends.
- Sprint Cup series