NASCAR America: Should Sprint Cup drivers be allowed in Xfinity races?


After a weekend that saw Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch win the Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway and Cup driver Kyle Larson hinder Xfinity title contender Erik Jones‘ chances of a win or strong finish, talk has again surfaced on if Cup drivers should be competing in the Xfinity Series.

Earlier this week, NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that fans should “stay tuned” for an announcement “fairly soon” on the issue.

With all of that brewing, NBC Sports analysts Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman debated the issue.

“It’s a very difficult solution,” Burton said on NASCAR America. “The reason I became a Cup driver is because of the opportunity to run in the Xfinity Series and race against Harry Gant, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt. Every now and then I could run with them. If none of them were there, I could win. But that propelled me, that gave me the opportunity to get to the Cup Series. A Cup owner, Billy Stavola and Mickey Stavola, they watched me run in the Xfinity Series, they said, ‘Hey, that guy every now and then can run with Mark Martin, maybe he can be a Cup driver.’ Without that opportunity I don’t think I’m ever a Cup driver.

“I will say this, when I raced against Mark Martin, he didn’t drive (in the Xfinity Series) for Jack Roush. When I raced (against) Harry Gant, he did not drive for his Cup team. When I raced Dale Earnhardt, he ran his Xfinity team out of a small shop on his property. I wasn’t racing against Richard Childress Racing. I was racing against smaller race teams. As the Xfinity Series has evolved, they’re not miniature Cup teams.”

Burton also said that permitting Cup drivers to race in the series allows Xfinity drivers to stand out to show that they can compete in the Cup level.

Kligerman said: “I’m going to play some devil’s advocate with you and say, ‘OK, if tomorrow Kyle Busch and all the other Sprint Cup regulars could not run the Xfinity Series, then we would not evaluate drivers, young drivers coming up by saying ‘If they can beat Kyle Busch or beat Brad Keselowski.’ ”

Burton noted that “the way we’ve always done things doesn’t mean that is the right way to do it. Racing is always an evolution … and we need to be looking at better ways to do things.”