The news broke in distinctly 21st-century fashion: on Twitter. On Jan. 7, Brad Keselowski, the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, tweeted that he had been ruled "ineligible" by NASCAR to compete for this year's title and that he "needed a good laugh." Keselowski was depressed because he had just learned that beginning this season, drivers will have to declare in which one (and only one) of NASCAR's three national series—Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck—they will compete for championship points. Thus Keselowski, who also races full time in the big leagues of the Cup series, won't be able to defend his title on the Nationwide circuit, the Triple A of NASCAR.
But this is a sound move by NASCAR, which will announce the rule change on Friday at Daytona. In 2010, Cup drivers won 33 of the 35 Nationwide races, and the last five Nationwide champions have been full-time Cup drivers. Imagine the Yankees playing the likes of the Durham Bulls, and you have an idea of just how top heavy Nationwide races have become.
Cup drivers will still be able to vie for wins in Nationwide races, but because they can't earn points, the practice of Buschwhacking—a term used to describe Cup drivers' dropping down to the Nationwide Series, which used to be called the Busch Series—should be curtailed. This is vital given the dearth of young drivers in NASCAR. This season, for the first time in four decades, there isn't a single rookie with a full-time Cup ride.
The Nationwide Series should be a developmental circuit. There are some intriguing young talents in the series—Justin Allgaier and Ryan Truex top the list—and this new rule may help them blossom. And while the change might miff Brad Keselowski, it should have racing fans all atwitter.