Roush questions purpose, timing of rule
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Jack Roush is taking personally NASCAR's decision to limit the number of teams a car owner can field beginning next year.
But NASCAR chairman Brian France insists that the move is necessary for the future health of the stock car sport.
The owner of Roush Racing, the only team fielding five cars in the Nextel Cup Series, issued a statement Friday at Phoenix International Raceway tinged with both anger and frustration.
"They tell me it's not personal, but I'm the only guy standing here with five teams that is making them work," said Roush, who has won the last two Cup titles and has half of the 10-man field for this year's 10-race Chase for the championship.
There was no timetable or details announced when France, on Oct. 8, talked about a cap coming. But Roush said even the timing of that announcement was aimed at him.
"They've brought it out just at a time when we were starting our Chase," Roush said. "If they wanted to cause distractions to my teams; if they wanted to create anxiety among my drivers; if they wanted to create questions in my sponsors as to my viability and my commitment and the prospect for Roush Racing going forward, they would do exactly what they've done.
"I do take it personally," he added.
France and NASCAR president Mike Helton held a joint news conference Friday and said the hard cap announced Thursday was in no way meant to penalize the big teams like Roush or Hendrick Motorsports, which fields four cars full-time and a fifth part-time.
The Roush and Hendrick teams have won 22 of 34 races this season and seven of the last 10 Cup titles.
"Down the road, several years from now, if we didn't do anything, you very well could have a situation where it's six, seven or more teams under a common ownership," France said. "There's parts of that that might not feel wrong, but the reality of raising the barrier to a new car owner who is coming in is daunting.
"We think that this [cap] is a good way to reverse that trend but still recognize that a multicar team and the infrastructure that has been set up is a component of our growth. It's been well noted how many new teams that Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush and others have helped get into the sport, and that's a good thing."
Helton said NASCAR wants to preserve that cooperation.
"We have no desire to stop [Robert] Yates and Roush from supplying engines, Rick Hendrick from supplying chassis and engines, Richard Childress, Joe Gibbs, those organizations actually making the sport better," Helton said. "Our fear is, and has been, is what happens in the future -- not '06, not '07. But, if we didn't have a cap, what would the sport look like in 10 or 15 years from now?"
Roush's five teams are grandfathered through 2009 and he said he is too invested in the sport to think about taking NASCAR to court over eventually having to cut back.
"I'm not sure what they're trying to do is legally right or is defensible in a court of law, but I want to be in this business," Roush said. "I don't want to jeopardize my sponsors and my drivers and our prospects in the near term, and too much distraction through an adjudication process would certainly not be in NASCAR's interest and would almost certainly not be in my interest and would very likely not have an outcome that I could be happy with."
The Cup garage was buzzing about the car cap on Friday as teams prepared for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500, the next-to-last race of the 2005 Chase. Some teams appeared to agree with NASCAR's stance that huge multicar teams could eventually damage the competition and keep new owners out of the sport.
Jay Frye, general manager of MB2 Motorsports, which fields two teams full-time and one part-time in the top series, said a maximum of four cars per team is fair.
"We don't feel like we can't compete against Roush or Hendrick," Frye. "We feel like we can. If they or we expanded to have 10 teams, that's not healthy for the sport.
"Now there's a number. Here's how many you can have. Well, great. Everybody knows that and we go on down the road."
Roger Penske, whose NASCAR team fields three cars full-time and has two in the Chase, said the cap is good for the sport.
"This decision will have a positive impact on our sport for years to come," Penske said in a statement released by NASCAR on Thursday.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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