Sabates predicts a 36-car field by 2010, more weekend news
Felix Sabates believes NASCAR will be back down to 36 cars by 2010
Carl Edwards has suddenly become a moving target for many drivers
Lewis Hamilton's lead in F1 is down to five points after the Japanese Grand Prix
CONCORD, N.C. -- There are two things that Felix Sabates is very good at -- making money and voicing an opinion.
He founded Sabco Racing in the late 1980s and operated the team before selling it to Chip Ganassi in the late 1990s. Now a minority partner with the team, the Cuban-born Sabates believes the poor economic times could result in eight fewer cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage area in 2010.
"There is a possibility that eight cars could be gone a year from now," Sabates said. "I've done the math. And you know what, in the old days we only had 36 cars starting in the field any way, so we'll just go back to a 36-car field. The only reason NASCAR went to 43 cars is because so many of us went to multi-car teams.
"I think by 2010 there could be eight cars here today that won't be replaced. And you may be shocked who those are. With all the venture capital companies coming into the sport, they are looking for a return, and if they don't see a return, they will close the doors and write it off."
Sabates believes the business model that currently exists in NASCAR has to have a strong economy in order for it to be successful. But as smaller teams are swallowed up and absorbed by bigger teams, either by mergers or alliances, it puts the control of the sport in the hands of a few select team owners.
"I think NASCAR should have a three-car rule rather than four," Sabates said. "I think they made a bad mistake, and the reason they didn't do it is because they were afraid Jack Roush would sue them. There is no need for one guy to have four races teams or five race teams when they have satellite teams. Who owns Yates Racing? Does Roush own Yates or does Yates own Yates?
"The NFL doesn't allow the same owner to own two football teams and the NBA doesn't allow someone to own two basketball teams, so why does NASCAR allow a team owner to own that many race teams."
During the early years of Sabco, Kyle Petty drove for Sabates. Now that Petty is out of a ride at Petty Enterprises, Sabates would like to bring him to Ganassi's team to fill the opening at the No. 41 car, which is driven by Reed Sorenson, who is leaving at the end of this season to join Gillett Evernham Motorsports.
"If it was my decision at Ganassi's team, I would put Kyle Petty in the No. 41 car," Sabates said. "He has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever been around in my life. Kyle can drive a race car, and if you put him in a competitive car and challenge him, he can win races. I'm convinced of that 150 percent, but Chip doesn't believe it so there is nothing I can do about it.
"Kyle would be good for the morale of the team, he could help with a sponsor and he would push the gas if I told him to push the gas. I would put him in a car tomorrow if it were up to me, but it is Chip's decision."
CARL EDWARDS' FALLING FAST
No one can deny that Carl Edwards has a passion for racing. But after recent run-ins with other drivers in the garage area, including last Thursday's throat-grabbing tussle with Kevin Harvick, Edwards has become a moving target.
Edwards, who sent a note to Harvick after the Talladega race telling him thanks for "[bleeping] me on national TV," apparently didn't realize the real world ramifications that would come by going into Harvick's garage stall. That only flamed the already hot tempers between the two competitors and resulted in the incident that has been so publicized.
Imagine what would happen in any sport if another driver went into the opposing team's dugout or bench area during competition? Just think of Manny Ramirez wandering into the Philadelphia Phillies dugout ... oh wait, that almost happened Sunday night in the National League Championship Series.
What makes NASCAR different than other sports is the competitors share such close quarters to each other in the garage area. With cars crammed into large garages at NASCAR speedways throughout the country, it's a wonder that opposing drivers and mechanics don't get into confrontations more often.
"It's been pretty well-documented everything that has happened," Harvick said on Friday. "We were in our pit stall and just protected our turf. You have to be careful who you want to pick a fight with. If you want to pick a fight with the wrong person it can turn around and bite you, no matter how big and tough you think you are.
"The whole situation was handled different than it should have been handled. You get tired of people handling things the way they do. I could give two [bleeps] about who Carl Edwards is and what he is in the race for."
When asked if he was trying to get in Edwards' head and throw him off his game, Harvick said, "That isn't very hard to do.
"I don't really have any idea nor do I care."