Is there a Young vs Veteran Battle brewing in NASCAR?

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Kyle Busch during a press conference (Photo by Malcolm Hope/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kyle Busch may have set the stage for a Young vs Veteran battle in NASCAR for its upcoming 2018 season.  Recently Kyle sat with reporters at the NASCAR Media week in Charlotte, North Carolina and fired a shot across the bow of all the young guns.

Is there a Young vs Veteran Battle brewing in NASCAR?

Busch told the gathering of media members that it was stupid for NASCAR to place so much emphasis on the young drivers as opposed to the more seasoned veterans.

We’ve paid our dues……… Pushing these young drivers I would say is not fair. But I don’t know.  I’m not the marketing genius behind this deal,” Busch remarked.

Losing a Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth and now the most popular of them all, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is not the remedy NASCAR had in mind to counter the recent declining television ratings and declining attendance.  Maybe a little rivalry between the young whippersnappers and the seasoned veterans is just what the Doctor ordered to mitigate the losses of such huge stars.

The Battles in 2017

Late last season we saw Denny Hamlin being super aggressive and taking out Chase Elliot in the Chase and costing the young Elliott a chance at advancing into the next round of the NASCAR playoffs.  One week later, Elliot returned the favor and bounced Hamlin’s number 11 Toyota off the wall and out of the playoffs.   Could that have been the first on-track battle of this Young vs Veteran rivalry?

Kyle Busch may be getting a large amount of pushback from his fellow competitors but it’s something NASCAR has seen time and time again.  Among some of the young drivers who responded to Busch, Ryan Blaney blamed Busch himself.

Blaney said, “The reason I get asked to do a lot of the marketing is I say yes a lot.  I can tell you personally that he (Busch) doesn’t like to do those things so he doesn’t get asked.

It’s as clear as crystal that NASCAR is entering a transition period.  There is an economic adjustment occurring in this sport and driver salaries is high on the list of car owner’s expenses.  I’m convinced that the reason such successful and highly skilled drivers like Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are not behind a wheel somewhere is the sport could no longer support their salaries.  The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed group of youngsters are all too eager to jump at a chance for a Cup ride.  A team owner could cut millions off their budgets by just making one move.

The Battle Is Joined

Not to read too much into Kyle Busch’s comments but one wonders if these veterans might now be somewhat resentful of these newbies taking rides at what they may see at a discount price.  Whatever the cause, I think a good old fashion “us vs them” rivalry is going to be good for the sport.

Ya think Kyle Busch might race a young Ryan Blaney a little differently after this past week?  And let’s not forget Hamlin vs Elliott part 2.

NASCAR fans are loyal to their favorites.  They purchase their favorites racing paraphernalia and display it proudly at the track.   There are huge dollars at stake as to who wins over those Dale Jr, Danica and Kenseth fans.  And more fans equals more opportunities for sponsors.

The philosopher Ayn Rand once said, “Money is only a tool.  It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”  She is wrong.  In the NASCAR world that’s exactly what may be happening.

Thanks for reading.  Listen to WTBQ radio on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:45 as I join Frank, Taylor and the Morning Show gang to discuss all the current happenings in NASCAR.  1110AM 93.5FM or online at WTBQ.COM.  You can also follow me on twitter @JimLaplante

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