I assume every NASCAR fan has received this memo by now:
The Nationwide Series has been hijacked by the Sprint Cup boys.
Six of the first seven races this season have been won by a Sprint Cup regular. Kyle Busch has four victories all by himself. Tony Stewart won the opener in Daytona, marred by that horrific crash on the last lap, while Brad Keselowski won last week at Richmond.
In fact, Keselowski was just the leader of the pack. He was followed by Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, all Sprint Cup guys.
The thing is, it doesn't "count" officially because Cup regulars are not allowed to compete for a championship in another series.
You could look at this two ways:
Fans are happy to see the biggest stars of stock car racing on the track, regardless of the level of competition.
Fans are not happy to see the Cup guys put the squeeze on the up-and-coming stars of the sport.
Another pertinent question is this: If Cup stars keep winning races, will anybody really have reason to "celebrate" the 2013 Nationwide Series champion in November? Won't those victories become throwaway memories with a huge asterisk?
Good luck picking them out of a lineup based on shots from Victory Lane.
"Nobody likes it," said Kenny Wallace, a NASCAR TV analyst on SPEED who also holds the career record for Nationwide starts with 537 over 24 years.
"I blame it all on TV, and I'm a TV guy. I don't like the way that TV holds the [Nationwide] Series hostage. They're the ones that will hardly promote a NASCAR Nationwide driver. The story angles are always about the Cup driver."
Although the Nationwide Series was never created as a developmental deal, teams obviously use it as a stepping stone for rising stars to gather experience. That dynamic has worked well in the last two season as Ricky Stenhouse emerged as a two-time champion before moving onto the Cup level this season for Roush Fenway Racing.
But the 2013 season has been all about the neighborhood bully sneaking in and stealing everybody's lunch money.
Wallace suggests a quick and easy fix, one that makes perfect sense:
Limit Cup drivers to 10 Nationwide starts. That sounds like a reasonable number. That way they won't poach the series every weekend while fans still get to enjoy the occasional cameo appearance from the drivers who are double-dipping.
"That's what made the [Nationwide] Series so strong," Wallace said. "It gave guys like Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and myself the opportunity to go racing against those veteran guys like Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Sr. 10 times a year. I outran them a couple of times."
There's no outrunning the Cup guys now. Just look at the snapshots from Victory Lane.
Denny is doing 'Dega
Denny Hamlin is expected to return to the Cup circuit this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
It will be the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's first race since he suffered a compression fracture in his lower back on the final lap of the March 24 event at Auto Club Speedway in California.
Don't expect Hamlin to stick around too long. Hamlin tweeted on Tuesday that he's been cleared "just to start,'' which makes sense given the long grind of Talladega, which always includes the unknown variable of a spontaneous massive wreck.
But the important thing is that he's been cleared by a team of specialists.
"They all came to the conclusion they were happy with me starting Talladega and getting out when it's a safe time to get out,'' Hamlin told reporters. "So ... we'll start our process at Talladega and then rescan again and try to go to Darlington."
Hamlin will probably drop out at the first caution and give way to backup driver Brian Vickers. As the starting driver, Hamlin will collect all the points based on the finish.
He needs to scramble to get back in the championship chase. He is now 28th in points after sitting out the last five races.
Gordon has road rage
Count Jeff Gordon as a fan of the new qualifying rules for road courses. NASCAR will use a group qualifying procedure, starting with the June 23 race at Sonoma Raceway.
"It's cool," he said. "I'm a big fan of Formula 1 and I love knockout qualifying. I kind of was hoping that we would go more toward the knockout qualifying session because I think in road racing that gives you that opportunity to do that. But we have 45 to 50 cars that we have to get qualified in, so it's a little bit more challenging to do that. You are obviously going to have that clock and the ability to kind of make a second lap if you need to."
Look who's got a hot ride for the Sprint Cup race at Talladega on Sunday. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron will drive the honorary pace car before Aaron's 499. He'll drive a customized Ford Mustang GT. McCarron says he's gone to Talladega before to watch races and has "always had a passion to get up to speed on the track."
It certainly could be a "new blood" mix of drivers making the Chase this season. Consider that Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart all are out of the mix based on current standings. Of the three, I'd say Stewart is in most peril. His Stewart-Hass team has struggled all season. Teammate Ryan Newman is 16th while Stewart is 22nd, and Danica Patrick is 26th.