NASCAR's "Odd Man Out" Dilemma: Is Four Teams Too Many?

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IFebruary 24, 2010

CONCORD, NC - JANUARY 20:  Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson (1L), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2L), driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, Mark Martin (2R), driver of the #5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon (1R), driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, pose during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hendrick Motorsports, on January 20, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

NASCAR has a maximum of four teams per car owner, though with the results of seasons’ past, in most cases it is proving that the forth team doesn’t do as well as the other three. There’s the case of the “odd man out", so to speak, with most teams.

Let’s look at Hendrick Motorsports over the past four seasons:

• In 2009, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon finished one-two-three, while teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 25th.

• In 2008, Johnson won the championship, Gordon finished seventh, Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th, and Casey Mears finished 20th.

• In 2007, Johnson and Gordon finished one-two, Busch finished seventh, and Mears finished 15th.

• In 2006, Johnson finished first, Gordon finished third, Brian Vickers finished 12th, and Mears finished 14th.

In all four seasons, there is one Hendrick Motorsports car that failed to make the Chase.

Another example of this can be seen through Roush-Fenway Racing:

• In 2009, Greg Biffle finished seventh, Carl Edwards finished 11th, Matt Kenseth finished 14th, Jamie McMurray finished 22nd, and David Ragan finished 27th.

• In 2008, Edwards finished second, Biffle finished third, Kenseth finished 11th, Ragan finished 13th and McMurray finished 16th.

• In 2007, Kenseth finished fifth, Edwards finished ninth, Biffle finished 14th, McMurray finished 22nd, and Ragan finished 23rd.

• In 2006, Kenseth finished second, Martin finished ninth, Edwards finished 12th, Biffle finished 13th, and McMurray finished 25th.

Mostly for Roush-Fenway, they’ve only had two or three drivers in the Chase over the past four years.

Then of course there’s Richard Childress Racing.

• In 2009, Clint Bowyer finished 15th, Jeff Burton finished 17th, Kevin Harvick finished 19th, and Mears finished 21st.

• In 2008, Harvick finished forth, Bowyer finished fifth, Burton finished sixth, and Mears finished 20th.

• In 2007, Bowyer finished third, Burton finished eighth, and Harvick finished 10th.

• In 2006, Harvick finished forth, Burton finished seventh, and Bowyer finished 17th.

In all four seasons, the Richard Childress Racing cars have finished well and around each other when they had three cars. The exception is 2006, though that was Bowyer’s rookie year.

So concluding by using the stats overall, three teams is the better way to go.

Now why could this be?

When a team owner has expands their fleet of the cars further, they’re also expanding their resources and how much effort they can put towards each car. Logic says that you need a multi-car team to do well, as seen throughout the season’s recently, though expanding beyond a certain point has shown to be pushing it.

So if I was entering the sport as a team owner, I’d go with a maximum of three cars, no matter what opportunities arose.

What do you think?


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