NASCAR to set 4-car limit for teams

by Pete McCole

November 11, 2005

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Car owners in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series will be allowed to field only four teams under a new policy issued by NASCAR on Thursday, hoping to curb the advantage that has been afforded the big-money, multi-car teams that have dominated the series.

Under the new ownership policy, which goes into effect next season, owners will only be allowed to have four teams, which will extend to “owners and any affiliate group” racing under the same banner.

Only one owner, Jack Roush, owns more than four teams. All five of his entries qualified for the Chase For The Nextel Cup, which many see as the primary reason for NASCAR’s decision to change it’s policy.

Team owner Rick Hendrick also owns four teams, plus a part-time team for driver Terry Labonte.

With the new policy, teams such as Roush Racing’s no. 17 DeWalt team, owned by Mark Martin, and Hendrick Motorsports no. 48 Lowe’s team, owned by Jeff Gordon, would count against the four-car cap.

No one is sure yet if Roush or Hendrick will be forced to drop one to four teams prior to next season, however in their statement, NASCAR said it will “work with groups that control more than four cars to establish a reasonable timeline for compliance” to the new rules.

Rumors had begun circulating shortly after the Chase began in September that NASCAR might limit the number of teams. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said last month the sanctioning body was looking into such a plan.

In response, Roush Racing issued a statement in mid-October defending multi-car operations.

In a seven-point statement, Roush Racing claimed that “multi-car teams have not reduced the number of teams entering NASCAR competition.”

“There is no crisis,” the statement went on to say. “No significant business value can be achieved through the operation of a single team in today’s NASCAR world.”

Apparently, NASCAR disagreed.

France said the new steps are a continuation of NASCAR’s pro-growth, pro-competition philosophy.

“The cap, the new testing procedure and the tire leasing program are in the best interest for the future of the sport,” said France.

“The cap, the new testing procedure and the tire leasing program are in the best interest for the future of the sport,” said France.

Roush Racing had no statement in response to Thursday’s announcement, but other car owners praised the new rules.

“I think it will be good for the sport,” said team owner Richard Childress. “Personally, I could never have gotten into the sport -- the way it is today – like I did when I got in as a driver-car owner many years ago.”

“There needs to be a cap,” said Felix Sabates. “I think it’s the best thing that’s happened in a long time.”

NASCAR also issued new rules concerning track testing procedures, with NASCAR setting a schedule for when and where track tests are to be held. These will be the only opportunities teams will have to test.

There will be six test locations that include Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The author can be contacted petem@autoracing1.com

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