Side-by-side – No single car team can win a Cup race
The early years of NASCAR were filled with people who would drive their family sedan to the track, race it and then drive home. That led to purpose built race cars that still were more stock than custom race car. Once Winston came into the series and the money began to ratchet up, far more “teams” began to dot the landscape of NASCAR. The economies of scale of running a team led to more success for multi-car operations. Ultimately, having more than one car became the norm and, since 1994, the drivers who have won the championship in the Cup series have had at least one teammate. The shared knowledge and pooled abilities of larger organizations just leads to the success.
In addition to the greater array of knowledge available to the teams under a single roof of a multi-car team there is also the ability to attract more money and spend it more efficiently. Multi-car teams offer sponsors more than one avenue for their product name to hit the track. They also offer multiple faces and voices to pitch their products. As more money comes to the teams they are able to invest in better infrastructure that affords teams the chance to make more cars and parts that cost less per piece because they make so many. That abundance of resources allows the teams of a multi-car organization greater flexibility in adapting to situations and conditions. When the green flag flies they are more prepared than single car teams simply because they are far more flexible.
The research and development behind the wheels of multi-car teams greatly outpace the efforts that can go into single car teams. In the end, that effort attracts the drivers with the greatest talent, which further puts up the road block to keep a single car team from winning a Cup race in this century. While there are some decent drivers running for single car teams in the Cup series, the better drivers are all under contract with the big teams. More personnel, more resources, more knowledge all leads to one thing, there simply isn’t a single car team out there who can win at the level of the Cup series.
While some people might point to Kurt Busch as possibly winning for the “single car” team of Furniture Row, they really are just an extension of Richard Childress Racing. The competition director for Furniture Row is also working at RCR half of his work week. The engines, chassis and other integral parts of the team are exactly the same as the RCR teams. So try as you might to call Furniture Row a single car team, they simply aren’t.
The bottom line is the modern world of NASCAR is all about the Benjamins, and the multi-car teams have them while the single car teams don’t have nearly as many. That imbalance of money makes it impossible for a single car team to win in the modern world of NASCAR.