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Limiting Team Numbers in NASCAR

Frank Stephenson at Division of Labour alerts us to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about possible changes to the number of cars an owner can run:

Foremost among (NASCAR Chairman Brian) France's plans is his desire to break up the multi-car teams that are dominating the Nextel Cup Series.

Speaking to a group of reporters Saturday at Kansas Speedway, the site of Sunday's Banquet 400, France said NASCAR wants to take away some of the advantages enjoyed by powerhouses like Roush Racing (five teams, all in the Chase) and Hendrick Motorsports (four teams with one in the Chase).

He said limiting the big multi-car teams to as few as three entries will make it possible for new team owners to enter the sport.

"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," France said. "That's why you haven't seen a lot of new ownership like a Ray Evernham come into the sport."

Multi-car teams have a huge edge over small or start-up teams because they can share resources, chassis setups and notes gathered by teammates.

As I understand it, teams do obtain some economies of scale as they grow larger (to a point). They can share information and technology that can help them adjust to various track conditions and other things. It apparently makes it easier to obtain sponsorships for the various cars and it becomes easier to build, test, and provide maintenance for the cars. But there are issues regarding who will control stock car racing in the future:

Owners of smaller teams would love to close the gap but questioned NASCAR's motives behind the plan and its effectiveness in controlling costs. Tony Morganthau, who co-owns Ken Schrader's No. 49 Dodge with wife Beth Ann in BAM Motorsports, believes it might be NASCAR's attempt to keep mega-team owners from banding together and possibly taking control of the sport as in Formula One, whose future is in jeopardy after many of its teams and manufacturers have formed a coalition against the sanctioning body.

My guess is that the control issues are pretty large given what's happened in Formula One.