NASCAR sources confirmed Wednesday that the sanctioning body is considering raising the minimum age for drivers racing in the Sprint Cup Series from 18 to 21.
Currently, drivers must be 18 to compete in the Cup, Nationwide or Craftsman Truck series. If a change is made, drivers between 18 and 21 would remain eligible for Nationwide and Truck competition but would have to wait to make the move into stock-car racing’s top series.
There are concerns that young drivers are being moved up through the ranks too soon, and that more time in the second-tier series would give them time to develop their skills on the track and to mature off of it.
Such a change could, theoretically, also bolster interest in the Nationwide and Truck series, since it would ensure that promising young drivers could build fan followings and attract sponsorships while competing at those lower levels.
Only two drivers have ever won races in NASCAR’s top series before turning 21. Kyle Busch won twice at age 20, at California and Phoenix in 2005. Donald Thomas was also 20 when he won at race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta in 1952.
Reed Sorenson competed in the Cup Series last year at age 20, but he turns 21 on Feb. 5.
Joey Logano, who won the Busch East title at 17 in 2007, turns 18 on May 24 and is scheduled to make his Nationwide Series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Dover shortly after that.
It is widely expected he would participate in at least some Cup events in 2009, but that could be prohibited if NASCAR goes through with the change in the age rule.