Mark Martin: New Xfinity/Truck eligibility rules ‘double-edged sword’

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The new restriction on Sprint Cup veterans competing in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series could be called “The Kyle Busch Rule.”

The rule limits current Cup drivers with five full-time seasons of experience to 10 races annually in Xfinity and seven in the Truck series. It also bans them from competing in the final eight races of the year, which includes the Chase and the regular-season finale.

If NASCAR had introduced similar guidelines just more than 10 years ago, they might have been labeled “The Mark Martin Rule.”

Before Busch came along and won a series-record 85 races in 12 seasons, it was Martin who claimed the mark with 49 wins from 1987-2011.

Martin’s true dominance came in the 1990s when the former Roush Fenway Racing was splitting time between what was then the Winston Cup and Busch Series.

From 1993-2000, Martin won 38 times, winning fewer than three races in a year just once in that stretch. The most came in 1993 with seven wins.

Martin was asked by Dave Moody on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio how he viewed the rule’s announcement. Martin said people need to remember that “times change” in life and sports.

“For many, any kind of change they don’t like,” Martin said. “I don’t like change a lot. But we need to make changes as times go on, and circumstances are different. I think it’s OK.

‘In some ways it’s a double-edged sword. There’s gains and there’s losses in making changes and getting Cup guys out of that series. I want to make sure that we keep our series interesting to our fans and interesting to our sponsors so the Xfinity Series doesn’t dry up. We need to keep that thing alive and thriving for all the young guys that need to get that chance to have that experience. We need them to be able to measure themselves against Cup guys. I think it’s OK on one hand. On the other, there’s still going to be an awful lot of Cup guys in the series.”

While drivers such as Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and others still will compete in the Xfinity Series, it will be more in line with the number of starts Martin was making at the peak of his Xfinity success.

After one full-time season in 1987 with three wins in 27 starts, Martin started more than 15 races only once (17 in 1989). This was when the Xfinity schedule was a few races shorter than in it is in 2016.

In Busch’s 14 years of racing in the Xfinity Series, he has started fewer than 15 races only once since his first full-time effort in 2004. He’s earned 10 or more wins three times and he has nine this season with three races left.

“No one really has a problem with Cup drivers racing in the Xfinity Series,” Martin said. “Unless they win too much. Then they shouldn’t be able to race. I don’t completely disagree. I’m not all that interested in watching Kyle Busch demolish the field in every race. I’m just not. But I am interested in Erik Jones giving him a run for his money, or something else like that.”

Martin reflected on his time in the Xfinity Series, when he drove the iconic No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford. How would a cap on Cup drivers in the lower series have impacted his career? Martin believes he likely wouldn’t be entering the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.

“It would be tough on me because in the early ’90s I think I may have gotten fired from Roush Racing at times for not performing,” Martin admitted. “I’ve said all along the success I had in the Busch Series in the ’90s kept me relevant in the Cup Series when I would go through droughts.

“It would also keep me relevant about car knowledge because I had to battle people that didn’t think I knew what I was talking about setups and bodies and all these kinds of things on the hardware on these cars. I could go over to my Busch car where I had 100 percent say in everything about how the body was put on, how the body was built and every setup and shock that went under that car, and I could go win with that.

“When I could do that, that added credibility to me. And my career, would not have been, I don’t believe, would have been a Hall of Fame career had I not had that to fall back on. Early in the years at Roush Racing, we had some really great years, and we had some years where we weren’t great. If I hadn’t of had the success that I had in that series from a hardware standpoint and a driver standpoint, it would have made it tough to make things go. For me, it was critical at the time. Today’s age, things are quite a bit different.”

Martin will enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame with 40 Sprint Cup wins. The most he ever claimed in one season was seven in 1998. That year in the Xfinity Series, Martin won two races in 15 starts, his fewest in an eight-year stretch.

NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

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Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.