CONCORD, N.C. — With teams scrambling to find sponsorships and raise enough money to run full schedules in this economic crisis, Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith thinks NASCAR should reconsider its four-car limit in the Sprint Cup.
Not a chance, according to NASCAR president Mike Helton.
“We have not changed our mind on this,” Helton said. “As a matter of fact, it’s probably stronger than it’s ever been, and we believe it’s the right thing to do. That move of a cap of ownership on cars ... was a piece of a bigger puzzle.”
Roush Fenway will have five Sprint Cup cars this season for the final time before it has to meet NASCAR’s car cap in 2010.
Smith, speaking to reporters at the Sprint Cup media tour, believes the recession will make it difficult for that divested fifth car to survive with a smaller team.
Smith also speculated sponsors may be hesitant to stick around if the car is transferred elsewhere.
“It’s some vision that was misplaced about how to get new owners in the business,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult business to be in. Economically, it’s very difficult even in the best of times. It takes a lot of capital to get people trained and engines developed. Frankly, it requires cooperative combinations to be able to make it work.”
Helton said multiple-car teams are not guaranteed success and could hinder NASCAR during an economic downturn.
“Imagine what it would be like if an owner who had eight or nine teams had financial problems and shut his garage down?” Helton said.
But owner Jack Roush feels he’s been unfairly singled out as the only team with more than four cars. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, David Ragan and Jamie McMurray will drive for Roush Fenway this season.
“They’ll have to think if changing their mind or losing face is offset by the fact that a sponsor might stay in and we may have one more team in the series,” Roush said.
HALL OF FAME: NASCAR announced its new Hall of Fame, scheduled to open next year in downtown Charlotte, N.C., will have five inductees a year.
A 20-member nominating committee will determine the list of no more than 25 candidates. That committee will then join 27 other former drivers, owners, crew chiefs, media members and other officials. A 48th ballot will represent the results of a nationwide fan ballot.
The first induction is scheduled for May 2010 when NASCAR comes to the Charlotte area for the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600.
EDWARDS VS. BUSCH: Edwards, honored as the driver of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association, is looking forward to renewing his not-so-friendly rivalry with Kyle Busch. The drivers combined for 17 Sprint Cup wins and several verbal jousts in 2008, although Jimmie Johnson won the points championship.
“If you’re mad at somebody, don’t like someone, it just makes it more fun to beat them,” Edwards said. “You have to be careful. If they outrun you, you can’t get down about it.
“Really, the best thing for me personally is I kind of race everyone the same. That ends up being the best. As hard as it is sometimes, that’s worked pretty well for me.”