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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.