Veterans elevate competition in Nationwide - NOTES by Lugnut - Tucson News Now

NASCAR NOTES: Veterans elevate competition in Nationwide Series

Photo credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR Photo credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"
AUGUSTA, GA (RNN) -

Former Cup Series drivers moving over to the Nationwide Series has been a much debated topic over the last few years. Now with an influx of well-known Cup drivers, the competition level has greatly increased for Nationwide regulars.

Elliot Sadler, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith and point leader Sam Hornish have all competed on NASCAR's center stage. However, with only a handful of top rides available this season, they all have found a home in the Nationwide Series. But don't tell NNS Director Wayne Auton that these drivers have taken a step backwards.

"I don't look at it as moving back," said Auton on the former Cup regulars. "I look at it as drivers that really love motorsports."

In fact, Auton sees their presence in his series as a good thing for the No. 2 most popular auto racing series in the world.

"We are, I'm tickled to death to see them in there," continued Auton. "Where else can you go and run against the best to be able to make yourself better?"

As the NNS Series hits a two-week off period of the schedule, the competition level so far has taken a step upward, and Auton gives the credit to the Cup veterans.

"I think the on-track competition that we've seen has definitely proven that the NASCAR Nationwide Series is worthy of their standing in all of motorsports," observed Auton on his season at this point.

Not only have the veterans proven that they deserve top billing, but they have also sped up the younger driver development in the process.

"You can't say enough about the competition level that's there," continued Auton. "Then you throw in a bunch of young guns like Kyle Larson, Parker Kligerman and young drivers like that and it shows how competitive this series really is."

In all, the Nationwide Series is in a healthy position, and Auton is proud of the product that he sees on the track. As the teams take some time off, they will certainly have some time to improve their performance, which will only make the competition level greater when they return.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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