Roush takes it personally

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NASCAR has dropped the other shoe on topic of limiting team size. Thursday, NASCAR announced the new policy, which will limit an owner to a maximum of four teams.

The limit begins next season, with the exception of Jack Roush's organization, which has until 2009 to comply, due to sponsor contracts that run through 2008. Roush is understandably upset about the policy, feeling that he is being singled out as the only car owner with five viable teams.

"The thing they did by picking on five rather than four is they singled me out," Roush said. "I take it personally. I do take it personally."

Roush also intimated that the fact all five of his cars were in the Chase for the Championship didn't sit well with NASCAR and other competitors. And Roush doesn't believe that NASCAR is done with the move to a maximum of four teams.

"They've told me it's four," Roush said. "But they haven't said that they would never, never, never consider anything less because you could start that slide and then you could say, 'Well, it's got to be one team, one owner.'"

On NASCAR's part, President Mike Helton and Chairman Brian France stated their case for a policy that looks out for the little guy.

"We don't like the fact that the independent teams, or in particular a new owner looking at coming in the door, have a daunting task to compete, and the concept of having to have five teams, three teams," said France.

Personally, I think that NASCAR was concerned that if teams got big enough they would have the clout to challenge NASCAR more effectively. Consider the scenario of three seven-car teams threatening to pull out because of some ill-conceived rule on the part of NASCAR . . . that would take half the field out and there would go the show. If there's one thing the NASCAR hierarchy likes more than money, it's power.

And speaking of policy changes, NASCAR also laid out their new track testing policy. The heart of the policy is that it sets a schedule for when and where Cup tests are to be conducted. Outside of these scheduled tests, Cup teams will not be allowed to test at Cup tracks, although they can test at non-Cup circuits. The officially sanctioned test locations at press time are Lowe's, Las Vegas, Richmond, Homestead-Miami and Indianapolis.

As the 2005 Chase for the Nextel Cup enters its final two rounds, it's pretty much a three-horse race. The Championship is Tony Stewart's to lose, with an advantage of 38 points on Jimmy Johnson and 77 on Carl Edwards. All Stewart has to do is to put together a couple of top-five finishes and it's all over.

However, if Phoenix proves to be disastrous for Stewart and Johnson, Greg Biffle (122 points behind the leader) and Mark Martin (minus 123 points) could be in close contention as well. Momentum also has a lot to do with it, and nobody has more of that particular commodity right now in Nextel Cup than Edwards. Coming into Phoenix off of back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Texas, Edwards certainly has the right attitude.

As he said in Victory Lane last Sunday, "We're going to have fun and try to win this thing. But if we don't win the Cup, at least we'll have had fun."

Sometimes we tend to forget that sports are supposed to be fun, and thanks to young Mr. Edwards for pointing that out.

After a disappointing season at Joe Gibbs Racing, former champion Bobby Labonte is packing his helmet and driving suit and going to Petty Enterprises for 2006, where he will take over driving duties in the No. 43 car. And due to some intense negotiations and not inconsiderable sums of money changing hands, Jamie McMurray won his release from Chip Ganassi Racing and will move to the Roush team for 2006.

Mark Martin had already committed to stay with the No. 6 Roush car for one more season, so McMurray will take over the No. 97 car while Kurt Bush got an early out to move from Roush to Penske South where he will drive the ex-Rusty Wallace No. 2 car. Yep, it's silly season!


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