NASCAR Nationwide Series

The NASCAR Nationwide Series is a stock car racing series owned and operated by the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. It is promoted as NASCAR’s lower circuit, and is a proving ground for drivers who wish to step up to the organization’s Sprint Cup circuit. Nationwide Series races are frequently held in the same venue as, and a day prior to, the Sprint Cup race scheduled for that weekend, encouraging fans to attend both events.

The series was previously called the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. In December 2006, NASCAR officials confirmed that Anheuser-Busch, parent company for Busch Beer, would not renew its sponsorship of NASCAR’s No. 2 series after the end of the 2007 Season. On October 3, 2007, it was announced Nationwide Insurance would become the title sponsor beginning with the 2008 season.

Nascar History

The series emerged from NASCAR’s Sportsman division, which had been formed in 1950 as NASCAR’s short track race division. It was NASCAR’s fourth series (after the Modified and Roadster series in 1948 and Strictly Stock in 1949). The sportsman cars were not current model cars and could be modified more, but not as much as Modified series cars. It became the Late Model Sportsman series in 1968, and soon featured races on larger tracks such as Daytona International Speedway. Famous drivers used obsolete Grand National (now Sprint Cup) cars on larger tracks but by the inception of the touring format in 1982, the series used older compact cars. Short track cars with relatively small 300 cubic inch V-8 motors were used. Drivers used smaller current year models featuring V6 motors.

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The modern-day Nationwide Series was formed in 1982, when Anheuser-Busch sponsored a newly reformed late-model sportsman series with its Budweiser brand. The series switched sponsorship to Busch in 1984. It was renamed in 1986 to the Busch Grand National Series.

Grand National was dropped from the series’ title in 2003 as part of NASCAR’s brand identity (the Grand National name was now used for the Busch East and Winston West series as part of a nationwide standardization of rules for NASCAR’s regional racing). Following the 2007 season, Anheuser-Busch, makers of the Busch brand of beer, said they would not renew their contract with NASCAR. In 2008 Nationwide Insurance became the title sponsor of the “NASCAR Nationwide Series”.

The Nationwide sponsorship is a seven-year contract, which coincides with NASCAR’s current broadcast contract with ABC/ESPN. The Nationwide sponsorship does not include the banking and mortgage departments of Nationwide. The sponsorship reportedly carried a $10 million commitment for 2008, with 6% annual escalations thereafter. In addition to the direct cost of sponsorship, Nationwide has made an additional commitment of between $4 million and $5 million in advertisement buys on ESPN.

International markets

On March 6, 2005, the Series held its first race outside the United States, the Telcel-Motorola 200. The race was held in Mexico City, Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a track that has held Formula One and Champ Car races in the past. It was won by Martin Truex Jr. On August 4, 2007, the Series held its second race outside of the United States, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, another road course. It was won by Kevin Harvick, while Quebec native Patrick Carpentier finished second. In July 2008 NASCAR announced that the Nationwide Series would not return to Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2009.

Television broadcasting

United States

Since 2007, ESPN2 as well as ABC and ESPN have been the exclusive carrier of all Nationwide Series races, replacing Fox, FX, TNT and NBC. Some sponsors have criticized the new television deal, noting only six races will appear on broadcast network television (through a branding deal on ABC); in recent years, as many as ten races in the Nationwide Series have aired on network television. Most of the races on ABC were chosen so ESPN2 could air major sporting events.

Latin America

The Nationwide Series is available in most Latin American countries on cable and satellite TV. Since 2006, ‘SPEED Latin America’ carries live coverage of all events. The races are also shown on Fox Sports Latin America, some of them live and some tape-delayed depending on the network’s schedule. Televisa Deportes also broadcasts a 30-minute recap every Sunday morning on national television in Mexico.


Network Ten’s additional high-definition service, ONE, began broadcasting races from the Nationwide Series live or near live during the 2008 season. Previously, broadcasts of the series were carried on the Fox Sports pay TV channel.


All races are live on TSN HD or TSN2 HD using ESPN’s coverage. Races that are aired on TSN2 are usually re aired on TSN late night after the race.


Since the early days of the Nationwide Series, many Sprint Cup drivers have used their days off to drive in the Nationwide Series. This can be for any number of reasons, most prominent or often claimed is to gain more “seat time”, or to familiarize themselves with the track. Examples of this would be the first ever winner of a Nationwide Series race, Dale Earnhardt, and the winner of the most races in Nationwide Series history, Mark Martin.

In recent years, this practice had been termed “Buschwhacking” by those who criticize it. The colloquialism originated from the words “Busch” and “bushwhacker” during the days when Anheuser-Busch was the main sponsor of the series but it has gradually fallen out of use since Nationwide took over as title sponsor.

Critics claim that Sprint Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide Series takes away opportunities from the Nationwide Series regulars, usually younger and less experienced drivers. On the other hand, many fans claim that without the Sprint Cup stars and the large amount of fan interest they attract, the Nationwide Series would be inadequate as a high-tier division. Many Nationwide Series drivers, however, have welcomed the Cup drivers because it gives them the opportunity to drive with more seasoned veterans.

In 2007, the Sprint Cup Series began racing with the Car of Tomorrow, a radically new specification different from the Nationwide Series. Sprint Cup drivers have admitted that driving the Nationwide car the day before the race does not help much with the Sprint Cup race because the cars drive so differently. This may change with the new Nationwide Series car making its debut in the July 2010 Daytona race. This car has a set-up closer to the current Cup car and some Cup drivers who have tested the car say it has similar handling characteristics. The new car goes full time in the 2011 season. In 2007, six out of the top ten drivers in the final point standings were Cup regulars, with Jason Leffler being the only non-Cup driver in that group to win a race in ’07. This number decreased from 2006 when 8 out of 10 drivers were Cup regulars. The decreased number is attributed to Cup regulars running only partial schedules, allowing for more Nationwide regulars to reach the top ten in points. However, the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 champions were all Cup regulars driving the full series schedule (Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch), and Brad Keselowski.

Nationwide Series Champions

2010 Brad Keselowski (Owners Championship -#18 Joe Gibbs Racing)
2009 Kyle Busch
2008 Clint Bowyer (Owners Championship- #20 Joe Gibbs Racing)

Busch Series Champions

2007 Carl Edwards
2006 Kevin Harvick
2005 Martin Truex, Jr.
2004 Martin Truex, Jr.

Busch Grand National Series Champions

2003 Brian Vickers (Owners Championship – #21 Richard Childress Racing)
2002 Greg Biffle
2001 Kevin Harvick
2000 Jeff Green
1999 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
1998 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
1997 Randy LaJoie
1996 Randy LaJoie
1995 Johnny Benson
1994 David Green
1993 Steve Grissom
1992 Joe Nemechek
1991 Bobby Labonte
1990 Chuck Bown
1989 Rob Moroso
1988 Tommy Ellis
1987 Larry Pearson
1986 Larry Pearson
1985 Jack Ingram
1984 Sam Ard

Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series Champions

1983 Sam Ard
1982 Jack Ingram

Late Model Sportsman Division Champions

1981 Tommy Ellis
1980 Morgan Shepherd
1979 Gene Glover
1978 Butch Lindley
1977 Butch Lindley
1976 L. D. Ottinger
1975 L. D. Ottinger
1974 Jack Ingram
1973 Jack Ingram
1972 Jack Ingram
1971 Red Farmer
1970 Red Farmer
1969 Red Farmer
1968 Joe Thurman

Sportsman Division Champions

1967 Pete Hamilton
1966 Don MacTavish
1965 Rene Charland
1964 Rene Charland
1963 Rene Charland
1962 Rene Charland
1961 Dick Nephew
1960 Bill Wimble
1959 Rick Henderson
1958 Ned Jarrett
1957 Ned Jarrett
1956 Ralph Earnhardt
1955 Billy Myers
1954 Danny Graves
1953 Johnny Roberts
1952 Mike Klapak
1951 Mike Klapak
1950 Mike Klapak

Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Award winners

2010 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2009 Justin Allgaier
2008 Landon Cassill
2007 David Ragan
2006 Danny O’Quinn Jr.
2005 Carl Edwards
2004 Kyle Busch
2003 David Stremme
2002 Scott Riggs
2001 Greg Biffle
2000 Kevin Harvick
1999 Tony Raines
1998 Andy Santerre
1997 Steve Park
1996 Glenn Allen, Jr.
1995 Jeff Fuller
1994 Johnny Benson
1993 Hermie Sadler
1992 Ricky Craven
1991 Jeff Gordon
1990 Joe Nemechek
1989 Kenny Wallace