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Should Cup drivers compete in NASCAR’s lower divisions?

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Matt Smith

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NASCAR and the MLB are similar in that they have multiple developmental leagues for their athletes to progress through in order to make it to the “Big Leagues.”

Where NASCAR and the MLB differ is you won’t see Aaron Judge or Clayton Kershaw go and play for a Minor League team during the season. In NASCAR however, their brightest stars will drop down to the lower series on a regular basis for a chance to win and get experience for their Cup race.

This has become an issue, especially recently. Just in 2023 alone, we have seen regular full time Cup drivers, Champions even, entering Craftsmen Truck Series and Xfinity Series races almost on a weekly basis and winning as well.

Let’s take a look at some of these performances below just to put it into perspective.

Craftsmen Truck Series

Kyle Busch, a 2X Cup champion, is a Craftsmen Truck series regular during each season. Busch has won 63 Truck series races in his career, the most of any driver. He would add win 63 this year, winning the second race of the season at Auto Club. He would lead 84 of 134 laps in that one.

Joey Logano would compete in the Bristol dirt event in the truck series. Granted, Logano definitely hasn’t competed in the Craftsmen Truck series as much as Kyle Busch, with Logano only making 9 total starts in the series. Logano would put on a clinic though, leading 138 of 150 laps, cruising to an easy victory.

Then there is Kyle Larson, this wont be the first time you will see him on this list. The 2021 Champion has been putting on his Kyle Busch hat this year, terrorizing the lower divisions with wins. He would win the Truck series event at North Wilkesboro comfortably, leading 138 of 252 laps.

Xfinity Series

The first instance of a Cup full timer stinking up the show in the Xfinity series would come at Circuit of the Americas, when road course ringer A.J. Allmendinger would lead 28 of the 46 laps to get back to victory lane. Allmendinger was full time in Xfinity last year, so it doesn’t feel as bad… right?

He’s baaaaaaaaaack. Kyle Larson wouldn’t just tear up the competition in the Truck series, he would share the domination with the Xfinity field. This time he wouldn’t actually lead the most laps, but he would make contact on the last lap with the driver who DID lead the most laps.

Larson would get into John Hunter Nemechek entering turn 3 on the final lap, spinning Nemechek off of four, giving Larson the win.

Most recently, like really, really recently, Kyle Larson was cruising to a barn burner, winning the first two stages, and having an 11 second lead on second place at one point.

Then, a late race caution would bring Larson down pit road for four fresh tires, having him restart 3rd. After nearly catching and passing fellow Cup driver Aric Almirola, he would hit the tire barrier in turn 11 causing him to lose a lot of ground.

A Cup driver would still end up winning, with Aric Almirola taking the checkered flag in a race that featured 7 full time Cup drivers.

Final Thoughts

NASCAR implemented a 5 race limit per series for Cup drivers in the lower divisions, after drivers like Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Brad Keselowski would win championships in the Xfinity series while also competing full time in the Cup Series.

That is also why you have to declare which series you will earn points for at the beginning of the season. While those have helped, there is chatter that the Cup drivers constantly being in the lower divisions hurts the full time drivers in those respective series.

Let us know your thoughts, should Cup drivers be allowed to compete in lower divisions? Do you think they should be able to compete more than they are allowed to? It is certainly a hot topic, especially with the recent influx of Cup winners in the Craftsmen Truck and Xfinity Series.

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Picture of Matt Smith

Matt Smith

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