Can a NASCAR Driver Compete for Multiple Championships In a Single Year?
No. Prior to 2011, NASCAR competitors were allowed to compete in all three of the national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series), and in effect could earn championship titles in all three (logistically difficult, though). From 2011 forward, drivers are required to declare in which series they intend to compete for a championship. They will only earn championship points in their declared series.
This rule change addressed concerns expressed in many quarters with respect to Cup-level drivers stepping down to race in the two lower series, thus limiting point-earning opportunities for regular competitors in those series. The rule does not prohibit Cup-level drivers from competing in specific races; it does, however, stipulate that they will not earn any championship points as a result of their finish in the race.
Some of the concerns with Cup-level drivers racing in lower series, especially the Xfinity series, still remain. One specific concern is that the typically better-equipped “senior” drivers deprive the regular nationwide drivers of opportunities to earn wins and higher payouts; however, this concern is countered by the observation that competing against higher-level drivers gives the lower-tier drivers a valuable opportunity to learn from those presumably better skilled. Also, the appearance of Cup-level drivers tends to boost attendance at Nationwide races, a factor considered beneficial to the sport in general.
In 2016, the issue continues to be at the forefront of NASCAR fans’ thoughts, perhaps driven by Kyle Busch’s renewed dominance in the Xfinity series. So far this year, for example, he’s won four of the five events he’s entered (he sat out the season opener at Daytona), leading 85% of the laps he ran. His average starting position was on the front row (1.8) in all five (3 poles), and his finishing position was even better (1.2). But it’s not only Kyle Busch that’s causing the controversy…in all six Xfinity races through April’s Texas Motor Speedway events, Sprint Cup regulars have compiled 18 top five finishing positions, with Xfinity regulars yet to score a series win.
For a complete list of the top ten winners in Xfinity series history, see our previous post.
It’s an on-again/off-again discussion topic for NASCAR fans (see our previous post on the subject). The debate will no doubt continue until NASCAR implements a definitive ruling.