Posted April 22, 2009 SpeedwayMedia.com
Back in November of 2005 NASCAR announced a new rule to limit the number of Cup teams that could be owned by a single organization. The new limit would be 4 teams maximum, which at the time only affected one owner, Jack Roush. The announcement also said that Roush’s five teams would be grandfathered through 2009. This is 2009, so will a team and driver be gone at the end of the year?
I spoke with Jack at Phoenix over the weekend regarding this and the rumor that Jamie McMurray and the 26 car was on the rope to be cut at season’s end. “ I don’t know anything about that,” answered Jack, “ that’s why they call them rumors, nobody knows the truth.” When I asked him, he refused to comment further. In a post race interview following Greg Biffle’s win of the Nationwide race, Jack was asked again, and again he refused to comment.
So what is really gonna happen at the end of the season? Will McMurray and the 26 team be dissolved? Will another team get the axe, (Don’t count on that one) or perhaps one team will be moved to Yates Racing as was speculated a few years back? That idea was dispelled earlier this year by Geoff Smith, President of Roush Fenway Racing during the Media Tour, when he indicated that transferring the car to another organization, such as Yates, might make sponsors hesitant to stick around if the car is transferred.
“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 co-operative combinations to be able to make it work.”
Another possibility does exist, but I am sure that NASCAR is hoping it doesn’t. After that announcement in 2005, Jack was quoted in an AP story about the change.
“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.”
Here we are three and a half years later, and still no answers to the questions. What I did not include in my other possible options was the lawsuit option. Yes Jack did say 3 ½ years ago that he would not do it, but that was then. Being the shrewd business man he is, Jack gives few clues, but he has never been known as a guy who allows anyone to run roughshod over him. I am sure that Jack has been and will continue to negotiate with Brian France and NASCAR to overcome this problem. However, based on NASCAR’s dismal failures on previous lawsuits of this nature (remember the no second race for Texas?) I’d bet that Roush will not be so shy to litigate as a last resort.