Who would would have thought that the emphasis on marketing rather than racing could be hurting competition in NASCAR? The influence of sponsors is just one of several factors that's led to 2010 being the first season in the series' 62-year history devoid of rookie drivers. An influx of successful rookies since the mid-1990s has left the top-level Sprint Cup with a crowd of drivers still in their prime and a dearth of seats for up and comers.

In the Nationwide series, traditionally the breeding ground for younger drivers, the sponsor money that fuels racing cars, has been pushing the established cup drivers to run for the extra promotional value. Combined with the cost cutting moves that have resulted in the banning of testing, there just isn't much room for up and comers to show their stuff.

This lack of young drivers could hurt the series in the long run as young fans continue to lose interest. Perhaps NASCAR should consider more modern cars, compelling competition, lively interviews and some serious brand-versus-brand infighting to bring the fun back to the sport.

[Source: New York Times]

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