As it has been the last couple of the years, the debate continues to rage on about whether Sprint Cup regulars should be allowed to run multiple Nationwide Series races throughout the year. The debate has reached a height currently with three of the first four races being won by Cup drivers, with those drivers dominating the top five positions.
Sprint Cup Series Rookie Kyle Larson is running all the companion races to get more experience, and says that it has helped him.
“I think it helps a little bit just knowing how the track might change throughout a race,” he commented.
While Larson wasn’t contending for a lot of wins last year in the Nationwide Series, he is this year as he ran up front at both Las Vegas and Bristol. Larson says that’s because his Cup Series experience makes the Nationwide car feel slower.
“Things happen slower,” he commented. “I have more confidence in that. That’s why I’ve been running really well in that car so far, too.
There are discussions that NASCAR may limit or completely stop Cup drivers from running in the lower-tier division. Larson says that he’d be disappointed if that happened, nor does he see it happening in the future.
“I think the Nationwide regulars like Cup guys running with them. I know I do,” Larson commented. “I consider myself still young, I guess, in racing stockcars. Whenever I’m out there with guys like Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, I can see them in front of me, I’m learning a lot from them.
“I like it. I think it’s good for the development side of the young drivers ’cause it is a development series for those kids. I think it’s a good thing for NASCAR to have the Cup guys in there because it’s just going to make their series more competitive when those young guys move up.”
Beyond Larson’s sentiments, team owners have stated that taking the Cup Series guys out of the picture would result in the series breaking down. JR Motorsports uses the Cup drivers to help fund the rides of their full-time drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith. Part of a sponsorship deal may have Kevin Harvick sponsored for one race, and then Smith sponsored for five races. If you start eliminating the Cup regulars, do the sponsors start backing out of the series?
Most drivers choose to run the series by choice, such as Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Others choose to run it for added experience, like Kyle Larson. Larson said the idea of him running the races came about by both Turner-Scott Motorsports and Chip Ganassi.
“Chip Ganassi, he really wanted me to do double duty,” Larson commented. “I think I read a stat somewhere before the year, I’ve only ran 40 something stockcar races in my career. I’m getting double the amount of experience in stockcars this year running both. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s good for Turner Scott Motorsports to have me still over there racing.”
Larson added that he feels he can help build TSM’s young driver program, especially Dylan Kwasniewski who was signed recently to a development contract with Chip Ganassi Racing.