Xfinity Series shows clear separation of talent
Photo by Jeremy Thompson/

Ryan Preece sits in his car at Daytona International Speedway in February 2016.

By Zachary Lange Staff Reporter March 19, 2016

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

For the Xfinity Series, NASCAR’s second-tier touring series, this year marks a continuation of the same results that occurred last season.

While drivers full-time in the Xfinity Series strive to make a name for themselves, garner more fan base and support, and appeal to potential new sponsors, drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the Saturday events for extra practice, extra trophies, and do it all with full backing from their respective Sprint Cup teams.

Granted, some full-time Xfinity Series drivers have just as much resources as drivers in Sprint Cup, or are even representing their teams such as Bubba Wallace for Roush or Daniel Suarez for Joe Gibbs Racing. But the talent level isn’t there, as it shouldn’t be as these drivers are developing.

But how does one develop while not being put in all race scenarios?

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Chase Elliott races Joey Logano to the finish line at Daytona International Speedway.

How do guys such as Wallace, Suarez, and Ryan Reed succeed while being thwarted in their attempts to even run up front by the likes of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, and Kyle Busch?

Simple answer, they don’t.

The Xfinity Series is the last stepping stone in a multi-tier test for drivers who want to compete at NASCAR’s highest level. It is a developmental series that would be more competitively balanced with limited appearances from drivers in the higher Sprint Cup Series.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Kyle Busch celebrates his Xfinity Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In the 33 Xfinity Series races held in the 2015 season, ten races were won by Xfinity Series regulars, amounting to just 30 percent. Of those ten, seven were won by drivers now competing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series. The only exceptions being Erik Jones (twice) and Ryan Reed.

Series champion Chris Buescher logged the most total laps in the 2015 season with 6,043 yet only four percent (263) of those were led. Kyle Busch only logged 2,777 laps yet a staggering 36 percent (1,017) were laps led.  

A series champion only leading four percent of his total laps logged is an alarmingly low number, a percentage that in any other series in auto-racing wouldn’t win you a championship, or even a podium finish.

The series champion led nine times less than a Busch who isn’t even collecting points, but kept collecting the hardware.

This Sprint Cup effect is only affecting the Camping World Truck Series minimally, however. In 2015, series regulars won 18 of the 23 events held, accounting for 78 percent of wins. Series champion Erik Jones logged 3,437 laps which was second overall, of those total laps Jones led 925 accounting for 29 percent of his total laps.

The reason why, Sprint Cup Series drivers attempted less races in the Truck Series. In the 23 races run, the highest amount of races from a Sprint Cup regular was Kyle Busch with four (17 percent).

In Xfinity, the highest amount of races run came from Austin Dillon with 20 of 33 races run (60 percent), and Kyle Busch came in second with 15 of 33 run (45 percent).

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Austin Dillon races Brandon Jones at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

So with the Truck Series being in a competitive state with influence from the highest series around 20 percent, to the Xfinity Series having competition issues with Sprint Cup regulars entering a rate of up 60 percent, one can begin to tell where the fault lies.

For Sprint Cup Series drivers, Saturday casual drives shouldn’t be discouraged or not allowed, at the end of the day many fans who purchase tickets for Xfinity Series races go to see the likes of Busch, Logano, and Keselowski.

However, the omnipresence of at least two to five Sprint Cup regulars at any given Xfinity Series race hampers the development of Xfinity Series regulars, while they are competing with themselves, they also have to worry about drivers who have years more experience in upper tier equipment.

To fix this, races that are not held in conjunction on the same weekend with Sprint Cup races should be Xfinity Series points collectors only. Iowa, Road America, and Mid-Ohio are examples.

In addition, each Sprint Cup regular may only enter in 11 of 33 races, or one-third, this ensures that their presence is still there in limited form while allowing fans to still see a few of their favorites.

Overall, something must be done to ensure the quality of NASCAR’s second tier series, and series regulars of the Xfinity Series shouldn’t receive second rate treatment.

Should NASCAR limit the amount of starts a Cup driver can make in the Xfinity Series?
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