Jeremy Clements on Cup drivers dominating Xfinity: ‘Who wants to watch that?’

One of the most-cited arguments in the debate over Cup Series drivers running Xfinity races is lower-level drivers learn something by competing against NASCAR’s best.

What does Road America winner Jeremy Clements think about that theory? Ehhhhhhhh….

“The problem is they’re in top-dollar equipment,” Clements said Friday at Darlington Raceway. “(People say) ‘It’s good for you to race them, it makes you better.’ I’m like, ‘Well half the time they’re so much faster, it doesn’t make me better when they fly by me. I don’t know what I’m learning from that.'”

Clements said if Cup drivers want to race in the Xfinity Series, they should have to drive for a non-Cup affiliated team. That would mean no more Cup guys in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, JR Motorsports equipment or Team Penske equipment, for example, which would make it “way more fair,” Clements said.

He’s not the first one to come up with that theory, but it makes sense given Kyle Busch’s only winless Xfinity season came when he was driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2012 (Busch went 0-for-22 that year).

But in general, Clements said, there’s just not much entertainment value in watching Cup guys dominate in the lower series.

“Like Iowa when Ryan Preece won? We need more stories like that and more opportunities for guys like myself instead of top-name drivers in Cup getting the big rides and winning every weekend,” he said. “That’s not exciting to me.

“I don’t blame the Cup guys; I would do it, too. I’m just saying give us a chance. I mean who wants to watch that, honestly?”

 

45 Replies to “Jeremy Clements on Cup drivers dominating Xfinity: ‘Who wants to watch that?’”

  1. I totally agree, I don’t want to see Joe Gibbs Racing fielding a Cup driver in a car practically every weekend with a full Cup pit crew. They take wins, points, and money away from all of the series regulars. It is high time NASCAR bans them entirely from driving in any of the lower series, period.

    1. I agree 100 percent. Let the cup drivers drive their own equipment, and not have cup crews pitting the car, and not allow them to influence the points. I don’t watch anymore when the field is loaded with cup drivers. Wake up nascar

      1. Sorry, James, the only time MLB players play in a minor league game is during a rehab period after an injury, nowhere near the same. Never seen an active roster NBA player in a D-League game, not to say it hasn’t happened, but again, that is nowhere near the same.

        1. False. They will go down there to work on swings, work on slumps or any other number of reasons not just due to injury.

          1. Yeah but the baseball player use the same equipment. They don’t use 7 million dollars worth of equipment verse 1 million for the minor Leaguers. They compete on a level playing Field.

          2. Exactly Ron, besides that is in no way the same as having Cup drivers who chose to drive in the Xfinity or truck series for certain races.

  2. It seems true that most value that comes from XF drivers competing with the cup drivers comes if there is primarily a skill/experience difference. The equipment gap makes it nearly impossible for drivers not in competitive equip to go toe to toe with the cup drivers to learn anything.

    I suppose in theory the engineers could be learning from cup ride engineering, but that seems like a remote possibility with the funding and staffing gap.

    I don’t have much problem with cup guys running XF if they do it without cup-level equip support. That might legitimately help smaller teams in more ways than one. I actually wouldn’t mind mutch watching Kyle dominate in middling equipment, because then it would be truly the driving alone I’d be enjoying.

  3. I used to be on the Cup guys side of things arguing that Cup guys put people in the stands on Saturdays, but have changed my approach. I’d say 3 starts in Xfinity and Trucks is enough. And I don’t mean 3 in each, 2 in Xfin/ 1 in truck or vice versa.

  4. Jeremy finally gets to talk and the truth is told. Cup drivers in cup equipment is no fun to watch in Xfiniry races.

  5. I entirely disagree. Clements has a bit of bitter taste on his lips, and he’s a nice enough guy it seems, but not very business smart.

    1) The entire reason that series exists today, for him to win and then complain about is because it was NEVER ADVERTISED AS MINOR LEAGUE. Cup guys ran it OFTEN. Perhaps he’s new to NASCAR? Pulling “the double” was a marketing strategy back then.

    2) You kick Cup guys out, Clements will be here complaining he has no ride at all. You know why those teams are funded so well? Because the drivers made names for themselves, often in worse equipment, earned their ride, thus earned their recognition that brings sponsor dollars.

    3) You can’t complain about a lack of funding, when their entering helps pay the fees to fund you when you get paid to finish. You want the model that drains money out of Xfinity? Fine, but no money for 11th+ place. We’ll see how long that lasts for teams.

    4) Clements hasn’t been competitive for years. Because he’s not a big name, that brings big sponsor dollars. The reason Gibbs can run the other non-Cup drivers is that Cup drivers are funding them. I seriously doubt Clements would be having this issue if a Cup guy wanted to join on his family’s team, bringing a multi-year, multi-million dollar funding source that’s spread benefits his team.

    5) Sponsorship dollars are already drying up, for the entirety of NASCAR. There are less entries showing up to qualify than ever. Marketable, awesome-guy, Championship-contending Bubba Wallace, with far better stats than Clememts lost his ride.

    6) Clements is here because his dad is dumping money into his team. Is he really in the position to complain about nepotism or favoritism? Especially seeing as how his family benefited directly with an RCR pairing for Ty Dillion? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? How long would the team exist if not for those evil “big names”?

    1. Mary, you make some excellent points. The real bottom line is the Xfinity series needs butts in the stands and eyeballs on their TV’s. The main factor in making any racing series successful is the number of people at the race and more importantly the number of TV’s tuned in. This determines how much a sponsor will pay for a minute which in turn determines how much the network will pay for the rights. This same factor determines if a sponsor will write a check with 2 commas to sponsor a team. Having fans in the stands is also important to the sponsor because of his hospitality tents for his customers. The owners of Joe’s Beans want TV viewers to see the number 29 “Bean” car on TV, but their real return is bringing the store managers to the race for a great experience so on Monday they’ll go home and buy more beans. Having 10,000 fans in a stadium that seats 80,000 does not help that great experience.

      Point is, the only question that counts when making decisions about changing a race series is, “What effect will this have on the sponsors?”

      1. The tv ratings for road American with out cup drivers was higher than some cup races. The attendance for the race easily beat several cup races. So that blows your theroy. Read the tweets from the cup drivers Raven about how exciting the race was. Years ago Dale Sr. Dale Jarrett Mike Waldrop and others had there own at the time Busch team most time crewed by friends and family. It was only when cup owners figured out that they could make a profit did they start Fielding there own teams. But that is changing the big teams is having trouble find sponsers for their exfinitiy teams.

        1. Terry – bad comparison for ratings. Exceptionally bad in this case, actually. And you might not have realized, in those memories. successful teams were done WITH the “big guys”.

          1) No racing competition, IndyCar ran Saturday night, NHRA was off. Cup was off.
          2) The ratings for nearly any road course are higher than average. Fans like the diversity of it. Especially Road America, which pulls fans from other series like IndyCar.
          3) Xfinity ran Sunday afternoon in the typical Cup slot.
          4) No major baseball competition not being in playoff runs just yet.
          5) Preseason football, no competition for Sunday there either.
          6) No basketball, either.
          7) Nope, no hockey either.

          Xfinity ran a favored road course, at a time and on a day when nothing else was on. Heck, half the broadcasts on most channels was Harvey coverage… and by that time, with round-the-clock coverage for the last 2-4 days, people were desperate to watch anything else.

          If you want to go full stat monkey, we can, comparing Xfinity races with and without Cup drivers, and parse the numbers per Cup driver entered.

          Now, about those race teams:
          Dale Sr.’s team, well… sucked (on the whole), until he partnered with RCR. Sr. then raced into the mid-90s for his car. It was through DEI’s name, but it was basically with RCR’s ownership, staff was shared at that time, and Sr. even later engaged RCR to “partner” for the engine program, which RCR and Andy Petree ran, because they were struggling. It was AFTER this partnership, that Jr. won the Xfinity championships in DEI cars. (RAD Engines – Richard Andy Dale)

          Just like Jr’s team now is funded by Hendrick.

          Michael Waltrip floundered in Xfinity running a handful to times over the years, moving to a partnership with Bill Davis (now also dead), which floundered, until his Cup racing team was funded by a BILLIONAIRE to get off the ground. It wasn’t until he had Cup series entries, that he ran a car (just one) in Xfinity. Not only that, but Kauffman not only could eat the massive lose MWR racing became, but was more than happy to try again and bought into Ganassi racing. So I’d say that’s a bad comparison too.

          Jarrett did not have those big partnerships, you are right. And they never could afford to run a full season running independently, before they went broke, IIRC.

          Jarrett’s team was broke in a short time that Clements family team has been around. Clements team also might be broke right now, if it wasn’t for A) Cup drivers bringing in dough for higher purses and B) his dad didn’t have the engine program which helps fund his ride.

          Kyle’s own team is funded partially through Gibbs (it started as a partner with Joe Nemechek, who’s Xfinity program, yep, you guessed it, floundered before dying – Nemechek literally ran a car in the Cup series, to start and park, to get cash to fund the Xfinity team, if that doesn’t prove my point, I don’t know what could). The one year Kyle tried to go solo is the single year in his career he didn’t notch a single win in Xfinity.

          So you aren’t really making a good case for how drivers in the past owned their own rides and raced them. Sure, they did. Unsuccessfully. Hard to find cash and sponsors and not doing well.

          How many Cup owners have private businesses/investments on the side? Most, if not all. Why do you think that is? It’s not because they thought it would be “fun” to running trucking empires (Penske), dealership empires (Hendrick), street racing mods (Roush), real estate firms (Ganassi), writing books & coaching NFL teams for tens of millions (obviously Joe, who continues to work for Redskins today),

          Hell, even Evernham and Petty needed wealthy benefactors with Gillet, and he pulled the life support plug. Petty had to reform, by signing with? Yep, another billionaire (and a second almost billionaire). And now that iteration is on it’s last legs, running part-time Xfinity with it’s Cup operations.

      2. Mark Long – Absolute.y Clements has 14 finishes this year, 20th or worse, including races without Cup guys. He has just 9 finishes above 20th.

        If you remove dollars from the series (whether it’s by gate/attendance paying the track for payouts or whether it’s sponsor dollars directly), you would have to remove payouts from lower ranks. We all know money doesn’t fall from the sky.

        Without his father’s engine business to prop up Clements race team – a business that has sold to those evil Cup guys – and payouts for 26th, Clements wouldn’t be here, AT ALL.

    2. I think it is advertised as a second division – why else would they say “names are made here”?

      Most of your other points are pretty solid. I will ask though, if second division Nascar is so anemic, why increase the size of the Cup field and have one event, shortening races but having them at more tracks, maybe some mid-week races, still utilize the road courses across both series? If the argument for the little guys is that they don’t have the budget, it’s not like it will make a difference in that regard anyway, apart from them having to upgrade equipment.

      1. Cody – It’s advertised as a second, not a minor league. “Names are made here” is a slogan. Because names CAN be made there, it doesn’t say “only names you don’t know are allowed to be made here”. The slogan itself openly allows for Cup guys, because several Cup guys have made their names running BOTH at the same time, back when they were pushing the “some racers are so hardcore, they are anytime, anywhere”.

        Xfinity itself marketed as a companion division, to expand the race weekend feel and boost dollars to tracks.

        This bizarre fan outcry about Cup guys running it appears to be self-acclaimed long time followers making absurd (and incorrect) comparisons to other sports, like the the MLB above, who claim the Xfinity was always a minor league racing division. NASCAR spent the 00’s courting the “average” sports fan who may cheer really hard for one team, but have no idea there are literally 4 leagues underneath MLB and only hear on a broadcast that someone was “called up”.

        In addition, one must consider NASCAR itself, as a standalone, in that if they REALLY want to make Xfinity some minor league race, then they would be getting minor league money. Ask a minor league players how much he makes. Minor leagues don’t often go coast to coast and back again either, which takes plenty of money.

        NASCAR is in an identity crisis. One I don’t think it will emerge from with Brian France at the helm. It can’t decide if it wants to be like other sports (instituting the Chase, until they had to expand it because once drivers were out, there was little investment, sponsor dollars, attendance, etc. was dropping for Chase races), be like a motorsport (all drivers welcome… if you can qualify it, you can race it), or whether it wasn’t to be an “experience” for the wealthy to Instagram home about, courting part-time fans, who spend very little on the big ticket memorabilia, and drop $15k for a suite once a year.

        NASCAR stupidly thought “gee golly, we can get all these luxury experiences and they will be fans for, like, ever!”, but the average NASCAR fan may make $30-40k a year, but outspends the wealthy, every time on NASCAR annually.

        If you increase the Cup field, you have two problems. MASSIVE loss of dollars coming from running Saturday (and Friday night for truck) races. No concessions at the track, no entrance fees for Fan Zone, no sponsors paying to sponsor races in the same weekend, not a long of anything. The track owners lose money themselves, just from fan purchase. I’d argue in a very rough estimate, that Saturday sales for Daytona’s track merch (branded Daytona stuff) on a good day passes several hundred thousand alone.

        The second issue is that a mass expansion in field size would make short tracks an utter nightmare. Bristol takes the green flag and right now, the last car starts a half a lap back. There are some funny, old clips on YouTube of masses of cars in the “all who enter may race” style. It’s straight up a slow paced, nearly gridlocked 405 on Monday rush hour.

      2. Cody – btw, part of the reason they’ve done the “free under 12” model for Xfinity and Trucks is because, since there are so many open seats, it costs nothing to let them enter, but parents buy the kids drinks, hot dogs, track merch, etc. On the surface it sounds like they would be losing money, but it’s straight profit.

        Plus, it inflates attendance numbers, to court sponsors to buy in for the race or for a car.

        They have resorted to giving away seats, to profit in other ways, because they couldn’t sell the seats. Think about how bad attendance must be, that you can offer an open-ended, unknown amount of free tickets.

    3. No one cared until it was KB doing the winning. No one minded Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Harry Gant, or Dale Sr doing the winning. NASCAR never designated Xfinity or Camping World as AAA or AA series. The were always separate stand alone series. Show up with a legal vehicle and you can run.

      1. PBK – you’d be surprised how many of the people who are screaming about Cup guys in Xfinity have no idea Brad won the series championship just a few years ago.

        Cup guys often won the championship, and especially with the open-ended season points, fans bought tickets for Xfinity in the last 3-4 races, because their favorite Cup driver could clinch a championship in any one of those.

        Quite literally, the best Xfinity ever did, was drivers attempting to pull double championships, and weekend sweeps. The implemented limits, each year tightening, correspond directly to the drop in money, attendance and sponsors. The graph just takes a dive, with each restriction.

        Without cutting the funding/costs for Xfinity by at least 50% (fewer races, fewer track diversity, etc), advocating any limits on Cup in that series is asking for a series death.

      2. PBK, Dale Sr ran Xfinity 13 years and only won 21 races. 1.6 per year. Never ran more than half the races in any year.

        Kyle Busch has run 78% of the races many many years.

        Your comparison doesn’t match then to now.

    4. Mary,
      It seems you’re too busy thinking you’re the smartest person in the room to see the big picture. You can make that list as long as you want in support of your position, but the bottom line is, the racing isn’t interesting.
      A lot of your points held water 5 to 10 years ago, but things have changed. Hardcore fans have grown tired of the cup team/driver domination in Xfinity. I’ve been saying it for years. At some point Cup teams like Gibbs started to figure out that they could make money by going down and dominating Xfinity. They got greedy, and in turn, sponsors got greedy. Now we’re to the point where sponsors don’t want to participate unless they’ve got a big name driver in the car. The very thing that was making them money in the beginning is bringing a slow death to the series. Cup teams and sponsors went after short-term gain without regard to the long-term effects on the health of the series.
      Clements was right when he said, “Who want’s to watch that?”. The answer is very few, and that’s been getting more and more obvious. People want great racing, sure, but people also need new faces and stories. Personally, I don’t need to see Busch, Harvick, or Kez race on Saturday and Sunday. I need something different on Saturdays. You can go on and on about how these guys are bringing money in and keeping the series alive. We’ll see how much longer that lasts if it continues. You think people are just going to suddenly start showing up and tuning in if nothing changes?
      Sooner or later sponsors are going to figure that out and they’re going to leave whether they’ve got a cup driver in the car or not. It’s NASCAR’s job to get ahead of this.
      Here’s my example, since you don’t like comparisons to other sports, which I agree with. When KB shows up at my local Saturday night short track to run his late model, that’s pretty cool. I get to watch my local guys that I see run every weekend battle against a cup superstar. I get to see that cup superstar drive on MY track that I consider home. That’s special. KB shows up with his big trailer and fancy equipment, but it’s cool because this is a unique opportunity for your track and drivers. Now, it’s all good as long as this is a rare occasion. Let KB start driving in with his big money every weekend, and winning every weekend, against guys who are working their 9-5 jobs and busting their asses and spending every dime they have on this “hobby”. Pretty soon it’s going to go from being exciting and unique, to a bitter bore-fest. The stands aren’t going to be packed to see the cup guy anymore, the competition is going to get bitter because they are spending more and more money trying to compete with the cup guy. Pretty soon they’re going to leave because it’s not fun anymore and they’re going broke. After a couple years of this, you’ve got no one in the stands and fewer cars on the race track. Big money has come in and ran teams and the track out of business.
      This is what’s happening on a bigger scale in the Xfinity and truck series.
      It’s sad that some people didn’t see this coming and still can’t see it, even some within the industry.

      1. To be totally honest I really don’t care what the Cup drivers want, if you make it so that it isn’t a benefit for the owners to have the Cup drivers in the car they will be put Xfinity series regulars. If they took away owner points from the owners if a Cup driver wins in the car there would be no way that the owners would continue to let the Cup drivers in the cars or trucks, period.

        The lower series racing sucks when Cup drivers dominate every race. Let the young drivers have a chance!

      2. Thank you…saved me the trouble of having to respond!

        I haven’t seen this mentioned, and in most race situations, the what-ifs don’t count. It did appear that had it not been for a flat tire, the 22 Penske “house” car was going to win the Johnsonville 180. Certainly not the name driver at the wheel, but a very young road-course ringer in this case, and a Penske heir-apparent…in other words, except for name recognition, all of the requisite elements were in place for that car to finish first.

        Jeremy Clement’s victory exemplifies what is wrong with NASCAR’s “farm system”, and many have expressed the issues well.

        The reality, as I view it, is that the ability to have a viable second-tier program that provides adequate driver & crew development to “feed” Cup has been permitted to become a “Cup light” deal, which brings with it costs that are not much less than what a full-blown Cup program cost even 10 years ago or possibly less. Whether Clements ever wins another race in NASCAR isn’t the point–I can only imagine his speaking frankly this week about the way things are in Xfinity now has him in someone’s cross-hairs.

        Racing at the same tracks, especially on the same weekend, is a significant problem. Go to an NFL game–there is no AAA or college game the day before to support the big game on Sunday. Why does NASCAR feel that there is an imperative to run companion events to Cup–are they that lacking in confidence of the product?

        Track ownership by the sanctioning body is also a problem, since they can’t resist the idea of having a Saturday event. They can deny it, but all I see is the conflict of interest inherent in the shell-game that is NASCAR & ISC. I’m sure I’m viewed as naive about what it costs to race or attend races–I’m not, and have attended plenty of events over the years.

        There are examples of full weekends that were enjoyable in the past–in fact, looking at it now, it’s understandable why NASCAR did what they did….I’m referring to Indianapolis. In the early Brickyard 400 years, the LMS/GN/BGN/Busch/Nationwide cars ran a “support” event at IRP, now LOR – Lucas Oil Raceway. Both BGN/Busch/Nationwide and NCTS/NCWTS (Craftsman/Camping World) trucks also raced there after 1994. Frankly, the undercard was often a better show than what IMS was offering at the Speedway–so, that had to be stopped, as IMS didn’t like to see the loss of revenue as attendance dwindled at the 400. So NOW there are 2 mediocre events at IMS, and nothing at LOR–and no trucks….some of the best events EVER in both Busch>>>Xfinity and Trucks history took place at LOR. All thanks to NASCAR and IMS not wanting to have to explain what is wrong at IMS.

        What it comes down to is the schedule is too full–it needs to be pared down to allow some anticipation for the races to come to a track, rather than a death march for the teams, and a situation that makes it all but impossible for a fan to attend races so crammed together by schedule and location–it REALLY screws the average fan when several races are run in the same general region in succession–Michigan, Watkins Glen, Pocono, for example or Phoenix, Las Vegas, Fontana. It’s easy to look at the schedule and see this repeated over & over.

        NASCAR Xfinity & Trucks definitely need to look at the ARCA approach–composite bodies, option for a spec engine, etc–as a means of cost control.

        Cost reduction is imperative–even in Cup. Good racing does not require $100K engines that produce 800+ HP and run 9300 RPM and higher. It’s pointless when the result is more drivers in over their heads, and wrecks and resultant cautions that end up being what determines who wins. More time in green flag conditions would result if the power level was dropped–lower RPM limit (7500-8000) mandated, move to a 5.0L engine package. Open up the engine design window to let in OHC engines, so more manufacturers might become interested.

        I’ve rambled from topic to topic, so I’ll summarize by saying that a viable Xfinity series needs a fresh approach. Safety cannot be compromised, but I don’t see that as a significant issue–it’s an opportunity to prove new ideas & concepts. The schedule really needs a divorce from Cup, with a focus on short & intermediate tracks AND even more road courses. What that means for the K&N Series, isn’t possible to say….Series rules for Cup drivers need to disallow participation in the lesser national series after 2 years in Cup, no more than 5 races per season in those 2 years, not at a companion event, and once a victory is achieved in a year, no further participation that year.

    5. Sponsorship in CWTS/Xfinity is drying up because people quit going/watching the boring races dominated by cup drivers.

      I quit watching lower series with cup drivers in the race.

      Cup drivers are killing the lower series, not helping.

  6. I will never forget witnessing Jeremy Clements win Road America 2017 and Justin Marks win Mid-Ohio 2016! On the other hand, even I tend to forget which Cup regulars won which NXS race?

  7. It’s the same age old argument that’s been going on since people started racing cars against each other, ” he has more money so his car is faster!” Well BS! These cars are built to certain specifics, the cup drivers race more often so they are more comfortable behind the wheel that’s the difference! So sorry Jeremy, your whining because you get beat too often! Also if the cup teams weren’t involved in Xfinity, there would be no Xfinity series! Just let that sink in! You should be thanking them for all their efforts to keep the series alive instead you cry and whine because they have more money than you! Think bigger than yourself once! Duh!!

    1. So the fact that a cup driver racing new cars vs Clements who has never had a new car doesn’t affect the outcome? If you believe that LOL

  8. I like that Xfinity is a lesser race than Cup. It’s more like watching hometown racing where we can see some beating and banging. When Cup drivers race in Xfinity TV covers them most…. why, for the sponsor?? Please Nascar, let us see some more Xfinity drivers only racing… unless a Truck driver wants to give it a go.

  9. Even if what you say re sponsorship money cup drivers bring I don’t watch. It bores me to tears to see cup guys dominate the series

    1. If it is supposed to be about what the fans want then why is that NASCAR has used every excuse in the book for not showing a backbone and forcing the team owners of the Xfinity teams to put only the series regulars in the cars? I have heard then spout more excuses than real reasons. It is absolutely boring to see Cup drivers in the lower series driving the best cars, using their Cup pit crews just to feed their ego when they win. I would much rather see a Xfinity series race with zero Cup drivers than to see the top 5 spots at the checkers being Cup drivers. That means the top Xfinity team only gets 6th place points and 6th place share of the purse and no chance of getting a guaranteed spot in the new Chase format for the championship.

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