In 2012, Kyle Busch ran 22 Nationwide races for his own team, and it didn't go so hot. He had zero wins, nine top-5s and 14 top-10s.
Heading into 2013, he hooked back up with Joe Gibbs Racing on the Nationwide end of things, and in the process has returned to the domination he once showed in the series (13 wins in 29 starts in 2010, for example). He has run all six races this year and has won four of them. If those numbers keep up, he might surpass his win total from 2010.
The end result: Fans are worse off for it, and the Nationwide series will suffer as a whole as fans tune out.
Last year, we got to see a lot of drivers in Nationwide compete for the win each week. There was no foregone conclusion that Kyle Busch would drive away from the pack.
This year it's not an exaggeration for me to say that if Kyle Busch is in the race, I don't have any reason to watch the Nationwide race that week. I know what's going to happen, which is a shame and not how it should be. This is supposed to be a series where up-and-coming drivers can compete for wins, and instead Cup interlopers are stealing the show - especially Kyle Busch.
Imagine a baseball player who regularly dominates competition in MLB going down from the majors to the minors just for kicks, in addition to his regular job in the majors, and knocking a home run off every pitcher he faced.
Not fair, right? Well, that's what Kyle and his fellow Cup interlopers are doing, and it dilutes the purpose of the Nationwide series, which is to give young drivers a time to shine and battle each other for wins early in their careers. Sure, an occasional star like Kyle Larson will be able to battle once in a while with guys like Busch, but mostly the Nationwide regulars are forgotten each week now that Busch is back dominating the series.
One of the reasons Sprint Cup racing is so popular is you don't know who will win. Even when Jimmie Johnson is doing awesome and winning a ton, there's no guarantee he will be in Victory Lane because so many other teams are equally as competitive as him on a weekly basis.
But when Kyle Busch's name is on the entry list for a Nationwide race and he's in Gibbs equipment (which has always been among the best equipment in this series), you can basically write his name into Victory Lane before the green flag drops.
So I ask again, why would I want to watch a Nationwide race in 2013? Sure, there might be some good racing along the way, like when Kyle battled Brad Keselowski at Texas, but we all know how it will end almost every time (not to mention, I just named two Cup drivers). Often Busch nearly laps the field he is so much faster. Last year's competition was much more varied and enjoyable to watch, and outside of the standalone races with few Cup drivers I am not motivated in the least to even watch Nationwide races this year.
Throughout my time watching the sport, I've never liked seeing Cup drivers run in Nationwide, though I understand it helps draw fans to the track and isn't going to go away. I miss the days when Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Jeff Green were battling each other for Nationwide titles before they moved up to Cup. At least the new points system helps by not letting Cup drivers win the title, but the reality remains that Nationwide championship contenders like Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, Brian Vickers and Regan Smith have little hope each week to see Victory Lane with Kyle Busch on the grid.
To me, the bottom line is that it's not a fair fight, especially when Busch is racing in Gibbs' dominant equipment. I'd rather see young guys get a shot in these top cars to test what they're capable of. That's more exciting for the pure race fan looking at the next generation, but not as good for the box office, so it will never happen. Sponsors want a driver like Kyle Busch in their car, and the fans suffer as a result.
Matt Myftiu lives in Michigan, has been a walking encyclopedia of NASCAR since immersing himself in the sport over 15 years ago, and has worked as a journalist for two decades. His blog on the sport, NASCAR: Beyond the Track, has been published by The Oakland Press for the past 5 years. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Kyle Busch
- Joe Gibbs Racing