NASCAR limits Cup drivers participation on national series


Call it the Kyle Busch rule.

NASCAR announced on Thursday that it will limit the number of races veteran Sprint Cup drivers can compete in on the Xfinity Series and Camping World Trucks Series beginning with the 2017 season.

The new guidelines will cap drivers with five years or more of full-time Cup experience at 10 Xfinity races and seven Trucks races.

Veteran Cup drivers also will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races, which comprise the Chase on both minor circuits, as well as the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash races.

“The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motor sports,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy said in a statement announcing the changes. “These updated guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR.”

It’s also aimed at preventing Busch from stealing too much thunder. The new rules won’t affect most Cup drivers, but it will have a tremendous impact on Busch’s race schedule.

Busch, who has been a full-time Cup driver since 2005, has averaged 23.8 starts in the Xfinity Series during the last 12 seasons.

During 286 Xfinity races in that span, including 16 this season, Busch has claimed 80 victories, 181 top-five finishes and 209 top-10s. He’s also collected nearly $17 million in prize money.

Busch, who’s won the last three Xfinity Series races at Kansas Speedway, is the most active Cup driver on the minor circuits, averaging 10.5 starts on the Camping World Trucks Series since 2005.

He’s won 46 of 126 Trucks races he’s entered during that time with 85 top-five finishes and 103 top-10s, earning close to $4.5 million.

Those days are finished.

NASCAR used to allow drivers to compete in multiple national touring series, but decided in 2011 that all competitors had to pick one series in which to collect championship points.

The only other drivers materially affected by the rules changes are Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, who have been regulars on the Xfinity Series.

Harvick averaged 24.4 Xfinity starts between 2003 and 2010, winning the series title in 2006, but he curtailed that schedule after the last major rule change in 2011. He only drove in six Xfinity races this season.

Keselowski has averaged 19.1 Xfinity starts since becoming a full-time Cup driver in 2010, but he hasn’t run more than 13 such races in any season since 2013.

Finally, Logano has raced in at least 11 Xfinity races each season since becoming a full-time Cup driver in 2009.

Drivers who qualified for last season’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup were deemed ineligible to compete in the Xfinity Series or Camping World Trucks Series championship races next month at Homestead-Miami Speedway by a rule change announced before the 2016 season.



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