NASCAR is instituting a cap on the number of races Sprint Cup drivers can compete in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series beginning in the 2017, the sanctioning body announced Wednesday.
Cup drivers with more than five years full-time experience in NASCAR's No. 1 national tour will be limited to 10 Xfinity and seven Truck Series races annually. Cup drivers who exceed the mandated experience level will also be prohibited from competing in the final eight Xfinity and Truck Series races, which consists of the regular season finale and seven playoff races in each respective division.
Additionally, Cup drivers cannot participate in the four Xfinity Dash for Cash races that award bonus money and carry potential Chase-eligibility implications.
And regardless their experience level, no full-time Cup driver can compete in the Xfinity and Truck Series championship races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Any driver who has more than five years' of full-time Cup experience can still race full-time in Xfinity or Truck Series if they declare they are racing for championship points in either division. A driver can only earn points in one national series per season.
The eligibility restriction is a reaction to Cup drivers' frequent dominance of Xfinity and Truck Series races. NASCAR has long permitted Cup drivers to participate in lesser division events, feeling their star-power brought greater fans and media attention to its other two national series. Sponsors also saw it as a benefit, enjoying being associated with a Cup driver for a fraction of the cost compared to backing a Cup program.
However, with the Xfinity and Truck Series moving to Chase playoff formats this season, the open requirements has drawn under greater scrutiny. Full-time Cup drivers have won 18 of 29 Xfinity races this season. For instance, defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch has won nine of 16 Xfinity races he's participated in, along with going 2-for-4 in Truck Series events.
"The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports," NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy said. "These updated guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR."