Where's the respect? Or why should there be, might be a better question. Today, during a long, drawn out rain delay at Dover, Delaware, ESPN2's crew basically asked practically everyone in the garage about Denny Hamlin's and Brad Keselowski's latest unpleasantness at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Drivers weighed in on both sides of the issue, but one has to wonder that just because a driver has driven previously in the Cup, that no longer does makes him qualified to make that decision. Nationwide is considered to be a developmental series, or a stepping stone, as it were, to the Cup series. Every week, Nationwide drivers, and I mean full time Nationwide drivers, compare their skills with those of the Cup drivers that sometimes drop down to the Nationwide series to scoop a little extra pay, or a little more attention to their sponsors.
In my not so humble opinion, there does not need to be a caste system in Nationwide. Just because a driver races full time in the Cup series should not entitle him to any benefits in the Nationwide series. There are as many as 43 cars out on the track, every Nationwide race, and to me, to ask the full time Nationwide drivers to step aside for the fragile egos of the Cup drivers is not only ridiculous, but is completely asinine.
Cup drivers in the Nationwide series help prop up struggling ticket sales for the series, and also help to improve TV ratings. Therefore, Cup drivers are a somewhat necessary evil in the Nationwide series. I do not think that any Nationwide driver, whether it be a one race deal, or if he's been racing full time in the series for years has to move over just because a Cup driver, often with vast resources of cash and crew talent, wants a nice smooth ride around the track. Drivers like Denny Hamlin need to understand that racing is racing. If you can't take the heat of young drivers messing with you, get out. Go back to the big show of Cup racing, and let the hard racers in Nationwide race without you. My advice to anyone like Denny Hamlin, who apparently feels that drivers like Keselowski should not race him hard: Go lie in your $300,000 hauler, and watch the race on TV, if you can't take the heat on the track.
I know people have been worrying for years about how to fix the problem of having Cup drivers win most of the Nationwide races. Here's my answer. If you are a Cup driver, you can only race in the Nationwide series if you are the owner, or at least the part owner of a Nationwide team. That automatically lets Cup drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick have access to the sport. If drivers like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and several others think that full time Nationwide drivers should show more respect to all of you 'veteran' drivers, put your money where your mouths are. Invest in the series. Don't just take the winnings. Put your money where your collective mouths are, and invest in the series.
Or shut up.