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Is the Xfinity Series or the Truck Series a Better Measure of Young Driver Skill?

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This year, we are seeing drivers make the jump from Trucks straight to Cup or from ARCA straight to Xfinity. With this recent jumping around the typical NASCAR development ladder, the question should be raised, what is a better measure of driver skill, the Craftsman Truck Series or the NASCAR Xfinity Series?

Advantages/Disadvantages of the Truck Series

Advantage: The Trucks They Drive

Brennan Poole recently talked about the difference between the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series cars on Power Hour, and he said that the Truck Series car drives closer to the Cup Series car than the Xfinity Series car. This would make sense because the Cup car has less horsepower with less off-throttle time, and that lends itself well to the current Truck Series cars. Poole is someone whose word on this subject holds a lot of merit, so, if he says that moving between the Truck Series and Cup Series is a smoother transition than Xfinity, that is an interesting note.

Advantage: Certain Manufacturer Support

Ford Performance Global Director Mark Rushbook recently talked to the media, and he gave some thoughts on how they prioritize Xfinity and Trucks in the development ladder. He admitted that Trucks is actually ahead of Xfinity on the totem pole, noting the drivers that have jumped from Trucks to Cup such as Todd Gilliland. That is an entire manufacturer that supports the series, and Toyota has also put a lot behind its Truck Series program with TRICON Garage.

Disadvantage: Competitor’s Skillset/Maturity

Last weekend’s race at Phoenix showed the biggest issue with the Truck Series currently. Many drivers in the series are very young, and they have little experience racing professionally. As a result, drivers have to deal with a lot of chaos while driving in the Truck Series, and that can hurt a driver’s development.

Disadvantage: Fewer Race Teams With a Direct Connection to the Top

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has support from manufacturers, but they only have two race teams with a direct line to the Cup Series in Front Row Motorsports and Spire Motorsports. The Xfinity Series, on the other hand, has Stewart-Haas Racing, Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing. When drivers sign on to the Truck Series, they sign with team owners who are often disconnected from Cup Series owners, which can make it tough to make connections to find a way upwards.

Advantages/Disadvantages of the Xfinity Series

Advantage: Competitor’s Skillset/Maturity

In the Xfinity Series, drivers are racing against drivers with far more experience than in the Truck Series. Oftentimes, they are racing against either current Cup Series drivers or drivers who have Cup Series experience under their belt. Drivers in the Xfinity Series have the opportunity to learn from and race around drivers with refined talent, and that is what the Xfinity Series is all about, refining talent.

Advantage: The Race and Season Lengths

Truck Series races are often 200 or 250 miles in length, and the season is only 23 races long with a few long breaks during the season. The Xfinity Series, on the other hand, is a 33-race season with races often around 300 miles in length. It is not a replica of the Cup Series, but, it is a much closer season length and race length than the Truck Series.

Disadvantage: The Cars They Drive

As was previously mentioned, the Truck Series trucks have been admitted by a current driver as being more similar to Cup cars than the Xfinity Series cars. The Xfinity Series cars, keep in mind, were redesigned in 2010, which was during the COT era. They are closer to a COT Cup car than a current Cup Series car, so, the way it drives and handles are far different than they used to be.

Disadvantage: Lack of Certain Manufacturer Support

As was previously mentioned, Ford admitted that they put Trucks higher on the priority list than Xfinity on the driver development totem pole. If Ford thinks that way, then what do the other manufacturers think, and could this mentality be the same amongst other teams as time goes on?

Which Series is the better place for growing driver talent? There are benefits and detractors to each racing series, and, it seems the lines are getting more blurred between the two.

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