NASCAR officials have a little ruse going.
They think you don't know, don't care or both. Do you?
Sprint Cup regulars are 9-0 this season in the Triple-A minor league, officially known as the Nationwide Series. Seven of those races were won by drivers who made the Chase in 2008.
The past 18 Nationwide events, dating back to the end of last season, were won by Cup regulars. Sixteen of those races were won by drivers who made the Chase.
And this isn't a new phenomenon. The past three Nationwide Series championships were won by drivers who finished in the top 10 in the Cup standings, including two who finished in the top 5.
Until 2006, no full-time Cup driver ever won a Nationwide Series (formerly known as the Busch Series) title. Since 2006, Cup regulars have won 90 percent of the Nationwide races (103 of 114 events).
The Cup stars are shooting fish in a barrel, and you're letting them do it. NASCAR officials think you don't care. In fact, they think you like it. Do you?
They think you won't come unless you can see Kyle Busch (among others) run roughshod over lesser competitors trying to learn their craft. Will you?
They think it's OK with you if a talented kid like Stephen Leicht, a Nationwide race winner in 2007 at age 20, can't get a full-time ride in the series because sponsors want Cup stars in the cars. Is it?
They say it doesn't matter to you if stand-alone Nationwide teams, like Baker-Curb Racing with driver Jason Keller, struggle to stay in business against big Cup operations racing in the series with Cup drivers. Does it?
Team co-owner Gary Baker talked about the uphill battle of trying to make it work against the Cup guys.
"It can be frustrating," Baker said last month at Nashville, one of eight stand-alone Nationwide events this season. "Do we look at it as if we're second-rate? No, we don't.
"But it is frustrating to look at the incredible budgets like the No. 60 [Carl Edwards' car]. If we had the budget of the 60 car, we could kick them in the teeth. But I'm a realist, and at times, that frustration gets pretty great."
NASCAR officials believe you like it when members of the Cup elite run the entire Nationwide schedule and win the championship, celebrating as if they achieved a major accomplishment. Do you?
Two years ago, NASCAR floated the idea of a major fix. Cup drivers ranked in the top 35 in the standings would not earn points in Nationwide events. They still could run every event, but only Nationwide regulars would compete for the title.
It sounded good at the time, but it never happened.
"We still talk about it," NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said. "We always review those things at the end of the year. But really, it kind of goes against everything we stand for."
Hunter is talking about the spirit of open competition, in which every driver has a chance to race in any NASCAR event.
It's a noble ideal, but isn't it more noble, and more fruitful in the long run, to have an actual developmental league with an identity, a place where young drivers can make names for themselves?
It's up to you, the fans.
If NASCAR officials are right, no problem exists. The Nationwide Series will continue as a hybrid league, sort of a warm-up event or B feature for the Cup guys to loosen up and dominate things before the big race the next day.
Is that OK with you? Do you care?
Just when it looked like Sam Hornish Jr. was ready to give up NASCAR and head back to Indy-car racing, he might finally be figuring this stuff out.
Hornish has posted top-10s in two of the past three races, including a career-best sixth-place showing Saturday night at Richmond.
Hornish didn't have a top-10 in his rookie season in 2008. Only twice did he finish better than 18th. This season, he has done that four times in 10 races in the No. 77 Dodge, including three of the past four races.
The one exception in those four was Talladega, but Hornish led three laps midway through the race and was running well (despite fighting the flu) before getting caught up in Big Wreck No. 2 with nine laps to go.
The improvement comes at a good time. Any chance of Hornish racing in the Indy 500 probably ended when fellow Penske employee Helio Castroneves was acquitted on tax evasion charges two weeks ago.
Castroneves' return to the IndyCar Series left Hornish without a seat (if he wanted it) for Indy since Roger Penske now has three drivers he can use in the 500 -- Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Castroneves.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. His book, "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated Drivers, Cars, Teams, and Tracks," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy. Terry can be reached at email@example.com.