NASCAR should keep pushing on Xfinity driver limits

Shortly after Justin Allgaier won the Phoenix Xfinity race on Saturday,’s Jim Utter turned to me in the media center and gave me crap for a tweet implying the race was good because an Xfinity driver won.

Utter observed the race was good either way — and it still would have been a good race even if a Cup driver like Ryan Blaney or Erik Jones had edged Allgaier for the win.

So would I have claimed it was a bad outcome, Utter asked, if a Cup guy won?

It’s a fair argument, but I’ll own my viewpoint: No matter what happens or how exciting the race is, if it’s a Cup guy in Xfinity victory lane, I won’t like it.

In that sense, Saturday was a good race. Allgaier hadn’t won since 2012, and he won on a day when veteran Cup drivers (five years or more of experience) were banned from participating.

And yeah, if a Cup guy won, I wouldn’t have said it was a “good” race.

A true racer would judge the racing off the action — not the participants — so I realize that exposes me a bit. But I’ve just never been able to get pumped about watching Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano moonlight in a series and suck all the oxygen out of the room. Nothing against them personally, but I just don’t find it interesting when they win a minor-league race.

After the race, I asked Allgaier if the absence of the veteran Cup guys changed the dynamic on Saturday. Yes and no, he said.

On one hand, he said, the typically strong cars driven by those Cup stars — like from Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing — were still in the race with excellent drivers. They weren’t easy to beat, and it was a “dogfight,” Allgaier said.

On the other hand…

“Kyle is really good here, so one would have to think he’d be up front battling it out,” Allgaier said.

And he was nowhere to be found. So was that a good thing?

“I think it certainly changes the way the race looks,” winning team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “When Kyle in particular is in these races, he’s got such a great chance to win. The race from second on back is still probably as exciting, but he usually doesn’t make much of a race out of it. When he’s in the field, he doesn’t hardly get challenged by a lot of the teams.”

Busch fans complain the media just doesn’t like it when Busch wins, as if people are OK with any other Cup driver. Personally, I don’t feel it’s an Anybody But Kyle situation when it comes to who I want to see in victory lane.

But Utter was right to poke holes in my argument that it’s all Cup guys who I have an issue with, because it’s certainly a different feeling when a Suarez or Jones or Blaney wins vs. a Busch or Keselowski or Logano. I admit that.

Still, my thoughts haven’t changed since I used this as the topic for my very first NASCAR column in 2004: Cup drivers should not be allowed to race in the Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series.

There’s zero value to anyone but those teams who sell sponsorship around it; everyone else loses.

Invest in Xfinity by allowing the lower series drivers to build their own storylines and rivalries — “Names Are Made Here,” after all — and let the series have a completely unique identity.

NASCAR has been taking baby steps over the years — Cup drivers can’t run for points (2011), Cup drivers can’t race at Homestead (2016), veteran Cup drivers limited to 10 races (2017), etc. — but it can’t stop now.

But my fear is after seeing a positive result like Saturday, officials will say, “OK, we’ve fixed it and we don’t need to go any further.”

It could have easily been a Cup driver in victory lane, though, so it’s still just putting Band-Aids on a wounded series that needs stitches.

Ban Cup drivers from Xfinity races — period — and the series will be much better off.


55 Replies to “NASCAR should keep pushing on Xfinity driver limits”

  1. Agree. Great race today because no veteran cup drivers. I would look forward to more of these and pay money to see them.

    I quit watching Xfinity races with veteran cup drivers. I would never pay to see in person.

    1. ….and then in a few years when TV no longer televises the “minor” leagues due to no major sponsorship, you and all who think like you will be complaining that you can’t see the races (see K&N series for example)

      1. Jaymz, There’s a K&N race onNBC Sports or NBCSP Friday 3/24 at 8:30 pm EST

  2. Completely agree with you that it was a much better race with an Xfinity driver winning!

  3. I completely agree. It gives those cup drivers unfair advantage for the next day’s race. That is only reason they are racing to get a feel of the car/track for the next day.

  4. I completely agree with you, Jeff. Watched from the grandstands and felt it was a great race. I was very happy an actual Xfinity driver won.

  5. It used to be said that Cup drivers in Xfinity/Nationwide/Bush is what put fans in the stands. I think that may have been the case in the past (even I would go to a Bush race in the past if Jr. happened to be racing the weekend I was at a race). But clearly that is NOT the case anymore. (Attendance for Xfinity races is almost embarrassing) And to a degree may be hurting the overall interest. You don’t often see the 18/22 cars dominate like they do when Kez/Logano/Bush run them. I can certainly understand NASCARs and team’s dilemma when it comes to the sponsor $$$ to keep the series thriving but it certainly hurts the overall competition when the top tier cup guys are in the race. #MyHotTake

  6. Why would you even be concerned what Jim Utter says. He is about as clueless as they come.

    1. But, he’s making a living at it, isn’t he? How do you rude comments make the situation better?

  7. I mostly agree with Jeff, but I think it is important to distinguish between Cup veterans and what I call “Cup rookies”. I don’t mind races being won by first or second year Cup drivers who are still gaining experience and are in more of a transition phase to Cup. I think the 5-year limit should be reduced to 2 years or less of Cup experience. Maybe have a few races a year that can have a higher percentage of Cup veterans and make them special events that pits Cup against Infinity. That should satisfy the sponsorship side of things and let the Infinity guys see where they stack up against the veterans.

  8. I agree with you. The problem with the current limits both in number of races and when they can race is that it negatively impacts the races near where I live and attend. I go to Atlanta weekend (w/Trucks & Xfin) and Charlotte Allstar Weekend (w/Trucks) and sometimes 300 (Xfin)/600 weekend. The current rules force an overload of Cup drivers in those races since they want to use up their limits and are forced into a smaller number of races available. So the current rules make the problem of Cup drivers worse for me.

  9. Reasons to keep Cup and Xfinity separate:

    1. Cup drivers in Xfinity races dilute X’s importance.

    a. Sponsor on cup cars that are in an X race get much more coverage than sponsor of a Xfinity cars.

    b. X drivers cannot have the success they should have with cups presence in their playground.

    c. TV shows and talks about Cup drivers moreso than X drivers.

    d. Xer’s don’t learn how to win.

    On and on and on.

    Once a student graduates Jr. high and goes to the High School the student doesn’t go back to Jr high because of having been there, done that and so it is easier.

    Also, if a cup sponsor wants to have a presence in X, let it sponsor a car there.

    I think that keeping the Cup and X separate would generate more popularity and knowledge of the X drivers and sponsors.

    Also, Cup drivers can win in the lower series and build on their wins…. even though they are not racing against their peers. They pad their win totals.

    Cup drivers have increased their win totals by racing against lesser drivers. It just isn’t fair.

  10. Apparently only comments that agree with your point of view are posted. Sad…. I had higher expectations for you since you went out on your own. Don’t want to upset the NASCAR apple cart.

  11. I agree with you Jeff, Cup drivers shouldn’t be in Xfinity races- Period.

    It’s like the Varsity players coming to play in JV games, and the outcome is too predictable. It does “suck the life” out of Xfinity, in my opinion. Fortunately, I see Xfinity races at Iowa Speedway, and Cup regulars, (besides the occasional Brad K appearance), rarely race there.

    However; I’ve heard it said that Cup drivers sell tickets, bring sponsors, (as you mentioned) to Xfinity for more exposure, and the Cup guys like to race, so, ya know, why not?

    But that pushes down the Xfinity drivers and teams who are there only to compete in this “minor league” and do not have much of a chance when it comes to a race with several Cup drivers in it.

  12. Couldn’t agree more Jeff. I’ve said a limit of 5 races a year and limit the amount of Cup drivers per race, 3 but no more than 5. Have the driver’s on each Cup team duke it out what race is most important to them.

    I’m a big Chase Elliott fan and he hasn’t won many races but I had a fit last year when I thought he might wreck a regular while trying to win a race. Same goes with Kyle Larson. Then today I thought Erik might do the same with Justin.

    I think Keith is on the right trail, maybe 2, no more than 3 years Cup experience. Ten races a year is definitely way too many races. Larry McReynolds is on our side too.

    1. Most people are watching for 2 things, the wrecking and the finish. The more they keep out the cup guys the more the lower tier guys can race.

  13. Jeff, has NASCAR picked the 10 races that the cup guys can’t race in or is it left up to the teams? If so, was today’s race “non cup drivers” because of “Dash for Cash” or one of the 10?

  14. I’ve been saying it for YEARS! No other sport allows the Top Level (major league) to “play down” ???? To me, it would be like letting college players go back to high schools and kick butt whenever they wanted. How is it fair for the Xfinity guys trying to “make a name” when a a Cupper or ten comes & steals the races and the money! Hard enough as it is to compete against the Sadlers and Shepherds and the like. Don’t like it. Don’t think it even begins to pass a sniff test.

  15. I do believe that cup drivers bring exposure to the Xfinity and Truck series, therefore increasing better sponsor opportunities to the X regulars, who are usually young upcoming drivers with dreams of making it to the cup.

    Every Cup driver to race the lower series are taking the seat away from a rookie looking for an opportunity to get some attention to win a regular ride. not all are a kid of a former Cup driver and can’t buy their way in.

    I do like the limitations to newer cup drivers who are still honing their skill’s in the big league. and I also would like to see them limit to far lesser races, no more than 3 to 5, 10 is way too many.

    Even tho they are not racing for points, they are still taking points away from the regular X series driver who need the chase points.

    it’s crazy when veteran cup drivers fly from another track to make the cup race, when the truck and X series are at different tracks.

  16. no active cup drivers runnin’ xfinity or camping world truck series period. both series need their own separate identity.

  17. +1 Jeff.

    1.5 – 2 mile track with Kyle Busch and other Cup regulars in Xfinity series means I skip that race entirely.

  18. I agree with you ….. Mostly……. 3per trucks 3 Per Xfinity for those with over 5 years full time cup. Keep the ban on certain races .10 per series with those under 5 years cup.

  19. Wow…”Cup Drivers”…Danny S. is a Cupper now, Blaney no longer is a rookie…Larson is not a rookie. Brendan Gaughan is no newbie or baby. Elliott Sadler was a Cupper, crapped out of that and is now a lower series driver, looking like a Baby Huey..with a bunch of others. Chase Elliott is no longer a rookie…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Justin Alligier was a predicted disaster in Cup, almost broke the team..and has not won in the lower series in over 5 years..and we cheer? Come on….this narrative is funky….look who has come and gone in the lower series..and look who has stayed…and should not have. Don’t blame the drivers…they are told to go, they do it! Can’t pick and chose your CUP Guy..and give excuses, Cup is Cup! And Justin didn’t pass the muster..big suprise!

    1. Completely agree with you, Anna. These drivers have the following full Xfinity seasons and many Cup starts as well. Justin Allgaier 6 seasons, Elliott Sadler 12 seasons, Brendan Gaughan 5 seasons.
      In CW Truck series you have Matt Crafton with 16 seasons, Johnny Sauter with 8 seasons, Timothy Peters with 8 seasons.
      It appears that you have to be a “great” Cup driver to be a problem…. I have always wondered if it were Dale Jr. in the lower series winning races, would we hear any complaints….

  20. Yes agree with you,should not allow any cup drivers to race in these races ever,they were in x once.graduated now it is time for these young ones to learn and move up……

  21. Im ok with cup driver as long as its limited, how about only have 3 spots in each race available to chp drivers?

  22. I can’t totally agree with you on this Jeff. If Erik, Danny or Blaney had won it still would have a good race. I don’t care who is driving if it is a close finish. Good competition is good competition no matter who is driving. If Justin would have dominated and won by a half a lap would it have been a good race. I think not.

  23. Jeff, whether I agree with you or not on certain subjects, I love that you speak your mind, PC is mostly out the window, you take heat but give it back. and your opinions are your own. We need more Jeff Gluck’s, but then you wouldn’t be special, would you!
    BTW on this subject I agree totally.

  24. I agree with many of the post leaving the cup drivers out; however I got the opportunity to go to Talladega last year for the spring race. It was awesome to see Lagano get his ASS put in the wall on the last lap of the race and Elliot Sadler go onto win the race……aka regular Xfinity driver!!

  25. I love the race yeasterday with no cup vets in it it was awesome sauce. Finally a race that Kyle crybaby bush didn’t win

  26. The first stand alone Busch race i went was to see Harvick,Edwards,Kyle Busch & 4 other Cup drivers .It was a sell out race

    Even the season finale in Xfinity,Nationwide is full of empty seats.I’ve been to Xfinity races many time.The last serie winner i saw was Erik Jones at Bristol last spring the first serie regular win
    since Justin Algaier in Montreal in 2012.i’ve seen 15 races between them…

    The biggest draw i saw is 15000 fans during a cup weekend last year outside of Daytona opener.Are you going to attend more Xfinity races without Cup regular? Are you going to watch more races on TV?

    1. Think of NASCAR as a juggling act. The administrators of the sport have to make it both the way fans want it and the way the racetracks and sponsors want it.

      Many fans want the Xfinity and Camping World series free of Cup drivers. But the tracks want butts in the stands, and the sponsors want TV viewers. And it is NOT just the sponsors of the cup drivers! All the sponsors from all the cars benefit from more viewers.

      My son sat down and watched the race with me because Eric Jones was on the track. If Eric was not racing, he would have left the house.

      I imagine LeafFilter, sponsor of Blake Koch’s #11 Chevy thanks Eric Jones for racing, and looks forward Logano and Busch to return.

  27. Nobody notice Austin Dillon taking out regular Cole Custer? Or are those boys exempt from any responsibility?

  28. That argument is one of the main reasons I started following you, Gluck, and I couldn’t agree more. Xfinity needs to be the stepping stone to THE BIG LEAGUES. 🙂

  29. I agree Cup drivers should be limited to how many races they can run in the lower series. I (like most people) hardly watch when Kyle or Brad or Joey competes. The outcome is always the same. But let’s not forget there are a few previous Cup drivers who are full time X drivers now. Just sayin.

  30. I don’t agree with keeping all Cup drivers out of the series. May young cup drivers did not get much time in the series and the additional seat time serves them well. Also, it gives the series drivers a chance to learn from and compete against them so if they make it to Cup they are better prepared. Keep the veterans out absolutely but not everybody.

  31. I like Larry macs take. Keep it the way it is and add a restriction for the playoffs. No cups guys in the playoff

  32. Don’t agree with you at all on this one Jeff. Sponsors want the big names representing them, next year if they made a rule for no Cup guys in Xfinity, you ll be asking why Xfin isn’t on tv anymore. It’s happened to us in Canada already with no truck races since 2015. Even our home race. Mosport isn’t shown.

  33. If felt good not to see the top 5 finishers not cup championship contenders.

    Ordered my new hat off can’t wait for it!!

  34. Drivers should drive in their own series! …PERIOD!!!!
    IXFINTY drivers deserve to win on their own turf. They work to hard for someone to drive in and steal their glory.

  35. First off, the Xfinity race was excellent (better than the Cup race turned out to be). My comments are more in general about the Cup guys in the lower series.

    I would say that at least 60% of the fan outrage about Cup guys winning all the races is directly tied to it being Kyle Busch winning most of them. If it was Dale Jr winning, then only the media would be upset. After all, I don’t recall much outrage when it was Mark Martin wiping the floor with the up and comers.

    One of the best things I ever saw was when Chase Elliot won his first race at Texas beating Busch, Harvick, Kes, and Jr and others heads up. Erik Jones did something similar a year later. Now those guys are Top 5 runners in Cup. They proved they were ready for the big time. We’ve seen way to many people skate through “cough” Danica “cough” the lower series and wind up in Cup only to run 25th every week.

    Just my opinions.

  36. I think there is value in having the Cup guys racing down a series or two. Several reasons for this.
    First, being on track with quality veterans allows the up-and-comers to learn. Learn how the top guys manage longer races. Learn about how they are expected to behave. Most importantly learn how to be fast at the right times.
    Second, the cup guys being in xfinity races allows them to learn about the guys who will be moving up soon. Knowing about new guys driving styles allows them to race more safely on Sundays.
    Finally the cup guys bring money and viewers with them. Without those things xfinity wouldn’t be onboard, and the whole structure of NASCAR would suffer.

  37. Here’s the deal about NASCAR’s Second Tier Touring Series now called The Xfinity Series and in my opinion they need Cup Series regular drivers to race in it. Notice what I called it has no identity other than the Series Sponsor and with a new Sponsor NASCAR rewrites all the series history but at least with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series formally the Sprint Cup Series, formally the Nextel Cup Series, formally the Winston Cup Series formally Grand National Series that was originally the Strictly Stock Series has from 1971 regardless of the Series Sponsor still remained The Cup Series. The same is true is with the Truck Series by the simple fact they are racing pickup Trucks . The now NASCAR Xfinity Series formally the NASCAR Nationwide Series formally the NASCAR Bush Grand National Series formally the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sports Series has never been allowed by NASCAR to have any sort of semi permanent identity. As a result of being treated as the Red Headed Stepchild Series by NASCAR instead of a true race series or even a true feeder series to the Cup Series it has never been able to grow into a Race Series capable of drawing fans to the race track, car sponsors, and or enough full and or part time race teams without having Cup drivers to fill the field and bring sponsorship, and teams themselves to the series. Additionally while I like the that Xfinity Series and Cup Series have now for some run different car bodies doing so has driven the cost of racing for Xfinity teams a great deal and has driven small teams to either shut down or find other series to race in. If NASCAR is actually serious about making The Second Tier Series a real stand alone series first off they need give it a permanent name like Cup or Truck, next race on more different tracks than Cup have double header weekends with truck to help entice fans to races promote the series and races better get a tv show that is only about the Series. Bring the Series back to a track that was a fan favorite track such as The Rock or North Wilsboro for example and raise the minimum age to race in the Cup Series to 21 so that young and upcoming drivers will be in the series for more than a year until they do any of those type measures to make it a real race series I am all for Cup drivers like Kyle, Brad, Kevin, Austin, or whoever stinking up the show like Cup Drivers have been found since the days they were called Pirates and Bushwackers because with out them doing that the series would not survive without that big push from NASCAR, Track Owners (Yes I am talking about you Bruton Smith) and Television because why would anyone want to waste money sponsoring a car in a series that is not attended or watched or does not have a young exciting drivers that will only be in the series for 2 years at mostly. Think about it, it is why I route for Sadler and Gaughan in the NASCAR Second Tier Xfinity Series.

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