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Not fast enough to qualify, Penske to use loophole for HornishUPDATE #2 Team owner Roger Penske said Saturday he hasn't decided if he'll move #2-Kurt Busch's points to Sam Hornish Jr. to guarantee the driver a spot in the first five races of next season. Hornish is leaving the IndyCar Series for a full NASCAR schedule next season, but his #77 Mobil 1 Dodge won't be one of the 35 cars locked into the first five races of the year. As a former series champion, Busch has a provisional that he could fall back on should he fail to qualify on speed. "We have a number of options and we're looking at all of them ... we'll see," Penske said at Phoenix International Raceway. "This isn't all about the first five races. This is about a long career for a great race car driver and someone who has delivered for us for a long time at Penske Racing." ESPN.com/AP
11/03/07 Kurt Busch said Friday that no decision has been made about whether his Penske Racing team will transfer Busch’s owner points to rookie Sam Hornish, Jr. next year, which would guarantee that Hornish would be locked into the first five races of next season. Busch would stay locked in, too, on the basis of him being a previous Nextel Cup champion.
“There are all sorts of discussions, and I see guys buying teams and different things,” team owner Roger Penske told NASCAR Scene last week. “We're right now trying to focus on getting him in a race. We'll look at our options once we get closer to the end of the season.”
But Busch said Friday no decision about a point swap had been made. “I don’t think he (Penske) said it, I just think it’s media speculation,” said Busch. “And so therefore there’s probably not much truth to it. And so I don’t know where it stands. I’ve reached out for Roger and I’m sure I’ll see him this weekend to see what the actual truth is. That would be great if a teammate could do that for a teammate, but yet it’s a decision that NASCAR would have to decide for us, because it usually doesn’t happen that way.” SPEEDTV.com10/29/07 With Sam Hornish having trouble qualifying for Cup races - he has missed all six he has attempted this year - Penske Racing may consider making a points swap to get Hornish into races in 2008. With Kurt Busch having won the 2004 Nextel Cup championship, Penske could transfer the points earned by Busch's No. 2 team to Hornish, which would lock him into the top 35 for the first five races of next season. Busch would get into those races as the most recent past champion if he failed to qualify on speed. NASCAR officials confirmed that a move would be allowed.
"There are all sorts of discussions, and I see guys buying teams and different things," team owner Roger Penske said. "We're right now trying to focus on getting him in a race. We'll look at our options once we get closer to the end of the season."
If Penske makes such a move, it could put a crimp in the plans of Dale Jarrett, the 1999 champion who hopes to use his past champions' provisional if he does not qualify for races at the start of next season. Jarrett is planning to run only the first five points races next year before retiring. Penske said he is committed to fielding three Sprint Cup cars next year for Busch, Hornish and Ryan Newman. A three-time Indy Racing League champion, Hornish had planned to run some races this year and then decide whether to go full time next season.
"We haven't made the decision," Penske said. "We're disappointed, obviously, we haven't been able to get him in a race. But we've got to keep on our plan." That plan is for Hornish to run Cup next season. Penske said he has not talked to other drivers for the third team. "Our plan [is] to run three cars next year or we wouldn't be running Sam the way we are," Penske said. "We have sponsors, and we have a program, we have people. It's a matter of executing here and getting in a race." Scenedaily.com
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