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Fewer Cup Drivers In The Nationwide Series? Brian France Says NASCAR Looking At Policy Change

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Though he declined to go into specifics, NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Friday that NASCAR is seriously considering making policy changes in the Nationwide Series next year that would help open up more seats for young drivers.

Sprint Cup drivers have dominated the Nationwide Series in recent years, and up-and-coming drivers have had more difficulty than ever finding a ride to develop their talent.

As such, NASCAR has had difficulty developing new stars due to the dearth of available seats in the Nationwide Series.

But France said changes are on the way, though he said Cup drivers would still be allowed to drive in the lower-level series.

"You're likely to see us make some changes in the Nationwide Series, because there's such a concentration of Cup drivers – which we like, on one hand – but we want to make sure that division is our version of college football," he said. "(We want) drivers, owners, crew members all building their identities and careers through that channel, and there needs to be a big enough place for them to do that.

"If there's not many seats available, we don't accomplish a lot of things. So you're going to see us from a policy standpoint begin to deal with that issue beginning in 2011."

France said Cup drivers would not be banned from the Nationwide Series – he reiterated his belief that Cup stars racing against younger drivers was "part of the magic" for that division – but that an unspecified policy change would help "make sure the stage is not crowded out so much so that we can't build and give opportunities to young Nationwide regulars who need that experience."

While a "hard cap" on Cup drivers is also unlikely, France said there were potential policy changes that could open up more seats. 

"We've got to have the rules and requirements in the Nationwide Series much more tilted to new drivers, giving them a greater opportunity...than we do now," France said. "There's several ways to get there, and I think you're going to see us start down the road to get to that place."

On other topics, France said several times that NASCAR liked the Chase format but wanted more "big moments" and drama, which he hoped could be achieved through unspecified tweaks that would balance wins with the traditional consistency.

In regard to the 2011 schedule, France said NASCAR had received realignment requests from both International Speedway Corp. and Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc., though he did not say what those requests were.

The schedule is expected to be released around Labor Day, France said.

France also discussed ethanol fuel (likely to be seen in the sport soon), the still-difficult economy and a more aggressive approach to marketing its drivers and the racing.