The NASCAR Nationwide Series is a stock car racing series owned and operated by the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. It is promoted as NASCAR's "minor league" circuit (often compared to Triple-A baseball), and is a proving ground for drivers who wish to step up to the organization's "big league" circuit, the Sprint Cup. Nationwide Series races are frequently held in the same venue as, and a day prior to, the Sprint Cup race scheduled for that weekend, encouraging fans to attend both events.
The series was previously called the NASCAR Busch Series. In December 2006, NASCAR officials confirmed that Anheuser-Busch, parent company for Busch Beer, would not renew its sponsorship of NASCAR's No. 2 series after the end of the 2007 Season. On October 3, 2007, it was announced Nationwide Insurance would become the title sponsor beginning with the 2008 season.
The N'wide Series field following the pace car
in April 2007.
The series emerged from NASCAR's old Sportsman division, which was formed in 1950 as NASCAR's short track race division. It was NASCAR's fourth series (after the Modified and Roadster series in 1948 and Strictly Stock in 1949). The sportsman cars were not current model cars, and could be modified more (but not as much as Modified series cars).  It became the Late Model Sportsman series in 1968, and soon featured races on larger tracks, such as Daytona International Speedway. Drivers used obsolete Grand National (now Sprint Cup) cars on larger tracks, but by the inception of the touring format in 1982, the series used older compact cars. Short track cars with relatively small 300 cubic inch V-8 motors were used. Drivers used smaller current year models featuring V6 motors.
The modern-day Nationwide Series was formed in 1982, when Anheuser-Busch sponsored a newly reformed late-model sportsman series with its Budweiser brand. The series switched sponsorship to Busch in 1984. It was renamed in 1986 to the Busch Grand National Series.
By that time, teams were switching from the General Motors 1971-77 X-Body compact cars, with a 311-cubic inch engines. Later, teams were using General Motors 1982-87 G-body cars. Ford teams used the Thunderbird cars consistently.
In 1989, NASCAR changed rules requiring cars to use current body styles, similar to the, as called at this time, Winston Cup cars. However, the cars still used V6 engines, which were legal until 1995. The cars gradually changed to cars just like Cup cars. Grand National was dropped from the series' title in 2003 as part of NASCAR's brand identity (the Grand National name was now used for the Busch East and Winston West series as part of a nationwide standardization of rules for NASCAR's regional racing). Following the 2007 season, Anheuser-Busch, makers of the Busch brand of beer, said they would not renew their contract with NASCAR. In 2008 Nationwide Insurance became the title sponsor of the "NASCAR Nationwide Series".
The Nationwide insurance company sponsorship is a seven-year contract, which coincides with NASCAR's current broadcast contract with ABC/ESPN. The Nationwide sponsorship does not include the banking and mortgage departments of Nationwide. The sponsorship reportedly carried a $10 million commitment for 2008, with 6% annual escalations thereafter. In addition to the direct cost of sponsorship, Nationwide has made an additional commitment of between $4 million and $5 million in advertisement buys on ESPN.
 International markets
On March 6, 2005, the Series held its first race outside the United States, the Telcel-Motorola 200. The race was held in Mexico City, Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a track that has held Formula One and Champ Car races, and was won by Martin Truex Jr.. On August 4, 2007, the Series held its second race outside of the United States, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, another road course. It was won by Kevin Harvick, while Quebec native Patrick Carpentier finished second. In July 2008, Nascar announced that the Nationwide Series, would not return to Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2009.
 Television broadcasting
 United States
Beginning in 2007, ESPN2 became the exclusive carrier of all Nationwide Series races, replacing FOX, FX, TNT and NBC. Some sponsors have criticized the new television deal, noting only six races will appear on broadcast network television (through a branding deal on ABC), and none in prime-time; in recent years, as many as nine races in the Nationwide Series have aired on network television, with two 2005 races ending up in prime-time television. Most of the races on ABC were chosen so ESPN2 could air major sporting events.
 Latin America
The Nationwide Series is available in most Latin American countries on cable and satellite TV. Since 2006, 'SPEED Latin America' carries live coverage of all events. The races are also shown on Fox Sports Latin America, some of them live and some tape-delayed depending on the network's schedule.
Televisa Deportes also broadcasts a 30-minute recap every Sunday morning on national television in Mexico.
Network Ten's additional high-definition service, Ten HD, will be broadcasting races from the Nationwide Series live or near live starting from the 2008 season. Previously, broadcasts of the then-Busch series were carried on the Fox Sports pay TV channel. The Nationwide Series carries a particular interest for Australian viewers with driver Marcos Ambrose being the only Australian driver currently competing in any of NASCAR's top three divisions.
All Races Are Live on TSN HD or TSN Alternate Thread using ESPN's coverage. Replays of the races that are on Live Alternate Thread Are Usually Late On Saturday Night.
Since the early days of the Nationwide Series, many Cup drivers have used their days off to drive in the Nationwide Series. This can be for any number of reasons, most prominent or often claimed is to gain more "seat time", or to familiarize themselves with the track. Examples of this would be the first ever winner of a Nationwide Series race, Dale Earnhardt, and the winner of the most races in Nationwide Series history, Mark Martin.
In recent years, this practice had been termed "Buschwhacking" by those who criticize it. The colloquialism originated as a portmanteau word made from the words "Busch" and "bushwhacker" during the days when Anheuser-Busch was the main sponsor of the series but it has gradually fallen out of use since Nationwide took over as title sponsor (the term, "Claim Jumpers", referring to Nationwide's insurance business, has begun to circulate).
Critics claim that Sprint Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide Series takes away opportunities from the Nationwide Series regulars, usually younger and less experienced drivers. In the other hand, many fans claim that without the Sprint Cup stars and the large amount of fan interest they attract, the Nationwide Series would not improve. Many Nationwide Series drivers, however, have welcomed the Cup drivers because it gives them the opportunity to drive with more seasoned veterans.
In 2007, the Sprint Cup Series began racing with the Car of Tomorrow, a radically new specification different from the Nationwide Series. Thus far, this has not changed things much. In 2007, six out of the top ten drivers in the final point standings were Cup regulars, with Jason Leffler being the only non-Cup driver in that group to win a race in '07. This number decreased from 2006 when 8 out of 10 drivers were Cup regulars. The decreased number is attributed to Cup regulars running only partial schedules, allowing for more Nationwide regulars to reach the top ten in points. In 2009, NASCAR will introduce a COT for the Nationwide Series, with major differences being the style of the cars (a rumored return to pony cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger) and a suspension package used in the old cars, according to NNS director Joe Balash. However, due to many Nationwide Series owners saying that switching to a new car for 2009 would be too expensive, especially under the current economic times, the date for the Nationwide Series CoT has been pushed up to 2010.
 Nationwide Series cars
 Comparison with a Sprint Cup Car
The cars used today in the Nationwide Series are slightly different versions of their Sprint Cup Series counterparts, the main differences being a slightly shorter wheelbase (105" instead of 110") and a larger spoiler (57" wide x 5.75" high instead of 55" x 4.5"). In the past, Nationwide Series competitors could use makes of cars not used in the Cup series, as well as V-6 engines instead of Cup's V-8s.
In 1995, changes were made. The series switched to V-8s with a compression ratio of 9:1 (as opposed to 12:1 for Cup at the time). The vehicle weight with driver was set at 3,400 pounds (as opposed to 3,300 for Cup). The body style changes, as well as the introduction of V-8s, made the two series' cars increasingly similar.
While the Nationwide Series car is lighter, less powerful, and has a shorter wheelbase; superficially, they can appear identical to the untrained eye. The suspensions, brake systems, transmissions, are identical between each series. The Car of Tomorrow does eliminate some of these similarities. The Car of Tomorrow is taller and wider than the current generation vehicles in the Nationwide Series and utilizes a rear wing and front splitter opposed to a rear spoiler and front valance. The Car of Tomorrow has also been setting pole speeds slower than the Nationwide Series cars at companion races. 
Previously, Nationwide Series cars used fuel that contained lead. NASCAR conducted a three-race test of unleaded fuel in this series that began with the July 29, 2006 race at Gateway International Raceway. The fuel, Sunoco GT 260 Unleaded, became mandatory in all series starting with the second weekend of the 2007 series, as Daytona was the last race weekend with leaded fuel.
Now that the Car of Tomorrow is fully implemented in the Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR has begun working on changing the cars run in the Nationwide Series. NASCAR has been approached by manufacturers about using differently shaped and named car models as the basis for the cars in the Nationwide Series when this change is made. NASCAR has been receptive to the idea as a way to differentiate the cars from those used in the Sprint Cup.
NASCAR officials are using a template
to inspect Casey Atwood
's 2004 Nationwide Series car, courtesy of the U.S. Navy
- Engine displacement: 358 in³ (5.8 L) Pushrod V8
- Transmission: 4 speed Manual
- Weight: 3,100 lb (1406 kg) Minimum (without driver); 3,300 lb (1497 kg) Minimum (with driver)
- Power output: 650-700 hp (485-522 kw) unrestricted, ~450 hp (335 kW) restricted
- Fuel: 98 octane unleaded gasoline Sunoco
- Fuel capacity: 22 U.S. gallons (83.2 L)
- Fuel delivery: Carburetion
- Compression ratio: 12:1
- Aspiration: Naturally aspirated
- Carburetor size: 390 ft³/min (184 L/s) 4 Barrel
- Wheelbase: 105 in (2667 mm)
- Steering: Power, recirculating ball
- Tires: Goodyear slick tires
- Length: 5283 mm
- Width: 72.5 inches
- Height: 51 inches
- Safety equipment: HANS device, Seat belt 6-point supplied by Willans
 Car of Tomorrow
Though plans are tentative, NASCAR plans to debut a Nationwide Series "Car of Tomorrow" (COT) by 2009. The body and aerodynamic package will be different than the Sprint Cup Series cars.
The Nationwide COT will have important differences from the Sprint Cup COT, and the current Nationwide car. The Nationwide COT will share a chassis with the Sprint Cup COT, but not a body. Because of this, the wheelbase will be extended to 110 inches (2794 millimeters). The body will be different from the Sprint Cup COT to differentiate it.
 Manufacturer representation
 Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series (1982-1983)
- General Motors
 Busch Grand National Series (1984-2003)
- General Motors
 Busch Series (2004-2007)
- General Motors
 Nationwide Series (2008-Present)
- General Motors
 Past Champions
Busch Series Champions
Busch Grand National Series Champions
Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series Champions
Late Model Sportsman Division Champions
Sportsman Division Champions
 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Award Winners
 See also