Nationwide considering stopping Cup regulars from earning points

In hopes of giving the Nationwide Series its own identity, NASCAR officials are considering one future option that would stop Cup regulars from earning points in the feeder league.

Officials also have talked to the teams about making engine and body changes, including the possibility of going to pony cars (Mustangs, Camaros, etc.) in 2009.

"All we've done at this point is ask the teams how they would feel about various changes," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston. "Nothing has been decided. It's all very preliminary."

The most interesting idea being discussed is a new rule that would state any driver ranked in the top 35 in Cup points could not earn points competing in the Nationwide race. The plan would go into affect in 2009.

Nationwide insurance takes over for Busch beer next year as the title sponsor for NASCAR's second-tier league.

Some people have criticized NASCAR in recent years for not doing more to control the number of Cup regulars competing in the Busch Series.

NASCAR officials have emphasized repeatedly they don't want to tell any driver he can't compete in a race. But Cup drivers and Cup teams have taken over the league to use it as extra seat time for young Cup competitors.

Veteran Cup drivers also compete regularly in the Busch Series. Kevin Harvick won the Busch championship last year and Carl Edwards will win it this year.

Those drivers would not be eligible for the Nationwide title if this change is made. Cup drivers still could compete in as many Nationwide events as they want. They also still would earn the purse money and go to Victory Lane if they win the race.

But only drivers not ranked in the top 35 in the Cup standings would earn points for the Nationwide event. Even with this change, a Cup regular still could win the Nationwide championship.

If the rule was in place this season, Cup regular David Reutimann would be in position to win the Busch title. He ranks second in Busch standings behind Edwards, but Reutimann is 39th in the Cup standings.

Reutimann has attempted to qualify for every Cup event, but failed to make the field nine times.

Jason Leffler, who ranks third, is the first Busch-only driver in the standings. Eleven of the top 17 drivers in the Busch standings are Cup regulars.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.