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XFINITY

Cup Driver Dominance Hurts Excitement of XFINITY Series

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The NASCAR XFINITY Series saw two of its most compelling races of the season at Iowa and Daytona. What contributed to the excitement? The success of series regulars.

William Byron won both events, picking up his first career series victories, and the top-10 was comprised of ten championship contenders at Iowa and nine at Daytona.

However, the narrative changed in Saturday’s running of the postponed Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers led the way, leading all the laps and claiming the top six finishing positions. Byron finished highest among the regulars in seventh in a race that demonstrated a clear distinction between the drivers of the different divisions.

While Cup Series competitors dominating the lower series has been commonplace for years, it’s harder to accept following two races of the regulars shining through and showcasing the series’ unique identity.

Iowa proved to be one of the wildest events of the year. An untimely late caution shook up the field and led to three drivers scoring their first top five’s of the season and many smaller teams earning an impressive finish.

Daytona’s unpredictability produced similar surprise contenders running well as Jeb Burton and Ross Chastain were among the competitors who finished inside the top-10.

Seeing different names at the front of the field was a refreshing change in a year where Cup drivers had won 11 of the 13 races before Byron’s pair of victories.

It also created the hunger to see more races play out similarly to highlight the up and coming drivers along with those competing full-time in the series.

While the importance of having names like the top-three finishers at Kentucky of Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, and Erik Jones in the field has been well documented as they attract sponsors and additional viewers, it’s overall more interesting to see the series regulars succeed.

Not all races play out like Kentucky but the events that do impact the series’ ability to build on its identity that Iowa and Daytona captured perfectly.

Although efforts are being made to limit the presence of Cup drivers in the series, the reason for doing so shouldn’t be just to keep them out of Victory Lane. It should be because seeing the stars of the series excel will ultimately produce a better on-track product.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.