NASCAR may limit size of teams | NevadaAppeal.com

NASCAR may limit size of teams

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

There’s an old military saying, “God is on the side with the biggest battalions.” Jack Roush of the NASCAR Nextel Cup wars would certainly agree with that sentiment.

But the powers that be at NASCAR beg to differ, floating a trial balloon last month about limiting the number of teams under one ownership umbrella. Discussion of the subject is hot and heavy in the garage. Roush driver Matt Kenseth pointed out that trying to make teams divest themselves of multi-year driver and sponsor contracts would open a legal and ethical can of worms. Jeff Burton made the point that it is difficult if not impossible for a new team owner to come in and be competitive.

Roush, the owner most likely to be affected by any limitation on team size, is as bewildered as he was when the rumor first surfaced. After discussions with both NASCAR CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton, Roush said,

“I don’t know any more about what they want to do, I don’t understand any more about their motives than I did when I heard from the rumors at the press conference….” Stay tuned as the saga continues.

An announcement at Texas Motor Speedway last week may prove Jeff Burton’s view of things wrong. Hall of Fame Racing announced its entry into Nextel Cup racing for 2006. The team is Texas-based, owned by Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, along with managing partner Bill Saunders.

Texas Instruments will be the primary sponsor, and Texas native Terry Labonte has been tapped to drive the first seven races, including the first five in 2006. The driver choice was a strategic move, giving the team a past champion’s provisional starting spot until it can amass enough owner points to lock into a guaranteed position in the field. Tony Raines will take over the driving chores after the first five races in 2006, except for the two road races, which Labonte will run. Labonte will be busy for a “retired” driver, as he is also committed to driving 10 races for Hendrick Motorsports next season.

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The new team will start out as an offshoot of Joe Gibbs Racing, based in a former JGR facility in Charlotte and fielding JGR-prepared cars and engines.

The cars will carry the number 96 (derived from multiplying Aikman’s number 8 uniform number by Staubach’s number 12).

Arguably the most successful team in American racing history, Team Penske, is moving its open-wheel operation from its longtime headquarters in Pennsylvania to Mooresville, N.C., where the Penske South NASCAR team will share a 424,000 square foot facility with the Indy Racing League team and the new American Lemans series operation.

Penske is also switching engine manufacturers in his IRL operation, abandoning Toyota for Honda in 2006. Penske has never been shy about changing horses. In the early 1970s Penske switched from Chevrolet to American Motors in the Trans-Am series, and formed a partnership with Porsche in the Can-Am series.

He also used Mercedes-Benz power at Indianapolis, Cosworth engines in his short-lived Formula 1 operation, Honda engines in CART, and Toyota powerplants in the IRL. The switch from Toyota to Honda for the IRL cars for 2006 anticipates Toyota’s departure from the series after next season.

“As it became clear that Toyota was reallocating its resources, we had to look beyond 2006 to make the best decision for our future,” stated Penske. Read “switching to Nextel Cup” for “reallocating its resources,” and you have some idea of where Penske and Toyota will next appear together.

Finally, a quick recap of Carson’s Outlaw Karters at Red Bluff last weekend:

Open Division: Chris Rytting Ð 9th heat, 10th D Main; Troy Combs Ð 4th heat, 11th B Main

Open Intermediate Division: Mackena Bell Ð 9th A Main, 4th B Main, 4th heat;

Daniel Thorson Ð 12th A Main, 2nd B Main, 4th heat

Intermediate Division: Cameron Millard Ð 6th heat, 9th B Main, Q13

Box Stock: Kellcy Bell Ð3rd trophy dash, 5th A Main, 2nd heat; Zachary Heinz Ð1st trophy dash, 11th A Main, 4th heat; Tanner Thorson Ð 3rd A Main, 1st heat; Mason Millard Ð 7th B Main, 5th heat; Matthew Roberts Ð9th B Main, 7th heat.