Some of the best racing during Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Phoenix occurred in the first half after a pit road miscue on lap 43 trapped a dominant Kyle Busch to 23rd in the running order. Busch, who had led every single lap prior to that point, quickly worked his way through the field and was leading again by lap 89.
But what if NASCAR required all drivers declared for the Sprint Cup championship to start at the rear of the field at the start of each Nationwide Series race?
This might be the long sought after solution to Cup drivers competing on Saturdays. First, the idea would radically improve the overall racing product of the Nationwide Series. The fastest cars and teams are typically driven by full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers and this system would require that they work their way through the field before they can challenge for the lead.
This encourages immediate passing once the green flag drops but more importantly, aids the development of some of the top prospects driving in the Nationwide Series.
Instead of Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski running away from the field, this new system would ensure that the Nationwide regulars get much-needed TV time, and the opportunity to prove themselves against NASCAR's elite.
Qualifying will still matter as time trial speeds will determine the pit stall selection order and decide the order the Cup Series invaders will start. Qualifying would take on an increased importance among the championship contenders as well since leading a lap, and the real chance of leading the most laps, will improve racing up front, too.
While I acknowledge this as a radical idea, so was the pick-a-series rule that forced drivers to run for just one championship starting in 2011. The idea was to give the development drivers a forum to shine and a real chance to steal headlines from the Cup Series regulars. This is just the evolution of that concept.
Sure, it's not fair to the Cup drivers competing on Saturdays but the status quo isn't particularly helpful to those running the full Nationwide campaign either. And as Saturday showed, sending Cup Series drivers (like Kyle Busch) to the back isn't really going to make a difference in the final rundown anyway.
But it will level the playing field, place greater emphasis on those running for the championship and most importantly, encourage action and increase passing throughout the race. After all, isn't this why we're watching anyway?