NASCAR Needs to Set New Precedents for the Top-35 Rule

Lee FraserCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2010

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 03:  Team owner Jack Roush speaks during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week NMPA Myers Brothers Awards at the Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino on December 3, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Let's go back to the year 2004.

Kurt Busch was on his way to winning the very first Nextel Cup Championship, under its new chase format.

It was Atlanta, and after qualifying, NASCAR thought of an idea that would change the sport forever!

After two full-time teams, with big sponsors, failed to qualify for the race in Atlanta—No. 22 Scott Wimmer with the Caterpillar sponsorship and No. 10 Scott Riggs with the Valvoline sponsorship—and missed this race, near the end of the season, NASCAR got the idea of the top-35 rule.

This would guarantee the teams in the top-35 in NASCAR Nextel (at the time) Cup owner's points would make it into the race, without having to worry about their speed.

A rule that seemed fair at the time, another stipulation of that rule was that teams must attempt to qualify for ALL of the races in a season.

So NASCAR went into the 2005, Daytona 500 abiding by this rule, the first five races going off of the owner's points from 2004, and then going by 2005 after that.

Right away, it looked alright, but at the end of 2005, the points shuffling was about to begin.

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The first of these took place with the old No. 77 car that used to be owned by Doug Brawel.

Who was behind the altering?

Who else but Michael Waltrip.

Michael had just finished up his final season driving the No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and was moving on in 2006. It was certain that Waltrip was going to run for his own team in 2007 with Toyota.

So Waltrip just needed to find something to hold him over for 2006.

There was another person in NASCAR that was know to be going to Toyota. That person was car owner Bill Davis.

Davis already had the No. 22 Caterpillar car in the top-35, and wasn't going to give up the points from the No. 22.

So they went out, got extra money from NAPA, and bought Brawel's points from the No. 77.

The No. 77 had nothing to do, with what was now the No. 55 car for Bill Davis Racing.

At the time, NASCAR said that it was ok, that Bill Davis Racing purchased the entire organization, being the #77 was a single car operation.

Can't argue with that point, but that was just the tip of the iceberg that has now become mayhem in the top-35 rule.

The rule stayed the same in the next big move, when Ginn Racing, and Dale Earnhardt Inc. merged in the middle of 2007.

When Ginn went under, there were rumblings that Furniture Row Racing's No. 78 was going to buy the points for one of the extra teams that went away with the merger.

NASCAR told the Furniture Row team that they were not allowed to purchase the points because they did not buy into the ENTIRE Ginn organization.

NASCAR looked like they were sticking to their guns for the top-35 rule.

The other thing we saw going into the 2008 season was an abuse of the past champion's provisional.

Roger Penske moved the points from his No. 2 to the No. 77 stating that the No. 77 was the old No. 2 car from 2007.

That's fine, nothing NASCAR can do about that.

Then in 2008 going into 2009—and this offseason's moves—go against what NASCAR has stated in the past.

The first was with the No. 33 car with Richard Childress Racing last season. Childress was starting a brand new team, the No. 33 with driver Clint Bowyer.

But, if you remember correctly, the No. 33 was guaranteed into the first five races in 2009.

But how?

Richard Childress Racing bought the points from the No. 01 DEI car, formally driven by Regan Smith.

Wait, what? I thought Chip Ganassi bought into DEI, not Richard Childress! But then the No. 33 got the No. 01's points.

Those points belong to Chip Ganassi and Teresa Earnhardt, not Richard Childress.

This went against everything NASCAR had shown in the past, with NASCAR letting them buy the points for the No. 33.

Two more moves happened last offseason, too. One was when Roger Penske purchased the points from the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota formerly owned by Bill Davis.

That, was once again fine. Bill Davis Racing was a single car operation and Penske bought the entire organization out.

Also, the Yates Racing/Hall of Fame Racing merger.

Again, they merged, and Yates had the right to do whatever they wanted with the points.

But then here we are today.

It was announced that Jack Roush had sold the No. 26 points to a man named Bill Jenkins.

Now how can that be?

Jenkins did not buy into Roush Fenway Racing nor merge his team with them.

This situation with Roush is a little different because Roush was forced to get rid of the No. 26 car due to NASCAR's four team limit.

So, I can live with the fact that these points were bought, but now NASCAR, where are you going to draw the line?

If someone came up to George Gillett and tried to buy the No. 44 points from 2009, they would have to approve them because of the precedent set in the past with the No. 33 last year.

That would again go against everything that they have stated in the past.

In fact, the only team out there right now that has points that should be able to be bought by definition is the No. 96 car.

But nothing is happening with them.

But NASCAR, how can new teams start up and compete if you're going to continue these points to be bought?

I like the bump-in because it gives the teams 35th on back something to gain the extra spots for.

Now it doesn't matter because when the economy picks up again, these points will be bought.

NASCAR: nip this thing in the bud. Let's keep teams buying into organizations—not the cars to get the points.

If we don't we're going to have uncompetitive teams with a lot of money in the top-35 like this new No. 26 team, or just the big organizations getting bigger because all they have to do is spend the dollars.

It's not fair, NASCAR, and something needs to be done!

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