By admin | January 18, 2009
By Richard Allen
Remember that ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ NASCAR team owners were considering at the end of last season? Well, it’s OK if you don’t because the gentlemen who were considering it don’t remember it either.
NASCAR took care of testing on the tracks in which sanctioned races take place by banning that practice altogether. It was believed that such a ban would help teams reduce costs during today’s difficult financial times. However, since NASCAR considers the team owners as private contractors they did not, nor probably could not, regulate testing on tracks at which they do not sanction events.
With that said, teams left the last race of 2008 in Homestead with the supposed gentlemen’s agreement in place not to test on any track, sanctioned or not.
Many figured it was only a matter of time before someone would decide they were falling too far behind and needed to test. It took even less time than many would have suspected.
Already, Chevrolet teams have tested at the General Motors proving grounds track in Mesa, Arizona. Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle was scheduled to test at the Texas World Speedway this past week. Joe Gibbs Racing teams have tested at the New Symrna Speedway in Florida.
The testing ban was put in place to save teams money by eliminated the massive expense that goes along with extensive testing. It looks as if teams are adding expense instead. Now, instead of working on tracks close to home they are traveling as far as Arizona, Texas and Florida to do what they used to get done within a 1-2 hour drive from their shops.
But one thing to take note of is who is doing the testing. As if the disparity between the haves and have-nots was not bad enough in 2008, it seems as though the pieces are in place to make it that much worse in 2009.
The people who will really be hurt by NASCAR’s testing ban will be those who were supposed to be helped. Those teams who were already behind do not have the operating budgets to go to such lengths to test as the powerful teams are doing.
And, the track owners at places like the Kentucky Speedway and the Greenville-Pickens Speedway will be missing a significant portion of their income from previous years. Both of those tracks host NASCAR sanctioned event so they cannot be used for any testing and thus cannot be rented out to Sprint Cup teams.
It seems as though whenever NASCAR makes a ruling, even when it is supposed to be in the best interest of the teams, something goes wrong.
The bottom line is that everyone wants to win. Competitors will do whatever it takes to get the advantage over each other. There are always ways to get around rulings, gentlemen’s agreements, or whatever else those edicts may be called and those who have the means to do so will find a way to take advantage.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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