RELATED: Bowyer’s throwback honors Martin
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Beginning in 2017, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers were limited to the number of races in which they could compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Currently, drivers with more than five years of full-time experience at the Monster Energy Series level are limited to 10 starts in the XFINITY Series and seven in the Camping World Truck Series. They are not allowed to compete in the final eight races in either series, including the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
William Byron, 19, took home the trophy from Indianapolis this past weekend, marking the fifth time in 18 races an XFINITY Series race has been won by a series regular this season. Byron has won three of them.
Mark Martin competed full-time in the XFINITY Series for only one season, but the NASCAR Hall of Fame member ran a part-time schedule for a dozen years.
He won 49 times, a series record that stood until August of 2011 when Kyle Busch won his 50th XFINITY Series race.
Martin admits “I don’t really know where I stand on that,” when asked about Cup drivers competing in the XFINITY Series.
“I was able to participate; I didn’t run that many races,” he said Tuesday during a paint scheme unveiling with driver Clint Bowyer at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I ran 14 to 16 races a year for a number of years. But at the time it was important, I think, for the series to have Cup drivers do the series for a lot of different reasons.”
The majority of Martin’s wins came with a Cup-affiliated team — Roush Fenway Racing. But he spent a good portion of his career (1987-91) competing for non-Cup affiliated teams.
“It’s a different day and age today,” Martin, 58, said. “I like what’s going on nowadays, I like the rule today and where they go with it from there I’m sure will work. … The racing, the world, the hardware, everything has changed since the ’90s. I’m OK with what they’re doing and OK with where they’re looking at heading to limit it even more.”
In the meantime, Busch, who has since upped the career win record in the XFINITY Series to 89, has said he plans to step aside should he reach the 100-win plateau in the series.
“I guess Joe (Gibbs) and I, we’ve always been joking for the last two or three years they’re going to kick us out and they are,” he said last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “They’re trying year by year and race by race eliminating myself from competition in the XFINITY Series, so I figured I better hurry up and try to get to a number that I would think … is unreachable to others.”
Earlier this week, NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that further limitations for Monster Energy Series drivers competing in lower series likely are forthcoming.
“(Discussions are) pretty far down the line,” O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said. “We’re looking at a further limitation for sure. We’re trying to land on the right number. A couple more conversations need to take place in the garage area and with sponsors.
“We hear the race fans, we know where they’re at. It’s a delicate balance for us to make sure we make the right call … but I think you’ll see in the next couple of weeks we’ll have that finalized.”
One possible scenario would be to continue to drop the number of races allowed. Another is considering lowering the max full-time limit from five years for both series.
Of the drivers currently limited to no more than 10 races in the XFINITY Series, three (Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano) have made seven starts apiece, leaving them no more than three attempts in the next seven races. Four of those seven races — Watkins Glen, Bristol, Darlington and Richmond — are companion races with the Monster Energy Series.
Erik Jones (10 starts) and Kyle Larson (8) fall under the five-year guidelines as do Ryan Blaney (7) and Aric Almirola (4).