Nationwide Series Rides The Waves Of Change
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It will be a year of change in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Not only will the series make the full-time switch to the new-style Nationwide car, which debuted in four races last season, but full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will no longer be eligible to win the series championship. Other smaller changes will also be instituted.
“We have a number of things that are happening, changes coming to the sport,” said Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash Jan. 25. “First of all, there has been a lot of talk about the drivers having to select the series that they were going to run for the championship. There has been a lot of involvement with the teams, the drivers and the sponsors. It really adds emphasis to the Nationwide Series, putting that emphasis back on the Nationwide drivers.”
“I do think it is a big deal to Nationwide,” said Elliott Sadler, who will race for the championship with Kevin Harvick, Inc. “They want their own Nationwide champion. It’s good for the fans. It gets us back to the grass roots of racing. There is going to be some great racing. There are a lot of good guys up here.”
“We have a great group of guys here,” said 2010 rookie of the year Ricky Stenhouse. “The championship is going to be just as tough whether the Cup guys are running it or not. I think it is going to make it a little bit more interesting. It’s a good thing for the series.”
The new car was also a topic of discussion.
“We ran it in four events last year and it was very, very successful,” Balash said. “Now, we will be able to showcase the car in each and every event in 2011. The drivers really hone their skills in this series and will have their work cut out for them.”
Balash also detailed changes in the qualifying procedure and the use of Ethanol-based fuel.
“There will also be a change in qualifying in the Nationwide Series,” he said. “We are speeding up our qualifying sessions, paralleling with our friends in the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series with a quick qualifying process. I think this will really offer a lot of excitement to the series and to our fans.
“We also have changes in our fuel system in all three of our series. The E15 fuel is a very important step in what we are doing. It will also make some changes on our crew rosters as we will no longer have a catch can man on pit road.”