Three too many for SABCO?

Three a crowd at Team SABCO? Any way you look at it, it has been a frustrating year for car owner Felix Sabates. From near wins to near disasters, his three cars -- piloted by drivers Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and Jeff Green -- have not...

Three a crowd at Team SABCO?

Any way you look at it, it has been a frustrating year for car owner Felix Sabates. From near wins to near disasters, his three cars -- piloted by drivers Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and Jeff Green -- have not run as well as he had hoped they would in 1998. Sabates is never shy about speaking his mind, and he did so recently about the present and future of his teams.

"Sterling Marlin has been pretty consistent all year," Sabates said. "We're 14th in the points. We missed Atlanta because we didn't have a provisional and it rained. If it hadn't been for that, we probably would be 10th or better in the points. We've had a chance to win a couple of races and we've beaten ourselves. We made some mistakes in the pits and made some bad calls on pit road. That's part of learning with a new team.

"Joe Nemechek runs good one week and bad the next. I don't know. All the cars are the same. I wish I knew. I've got a lot of confidence in Joe. I just signed him to a new three-year deal. I think a lot of Joe. We just haven't been able to put it together. I think if we put it together one time, we could go on a streak and win races and do well. We just can't get our first win. I think once we get our first win, we'll take off."

Sabates is not sure what the future holds for his third team, the No. 46 Chevrolet. But he doesn't like the present, that's for sure.

"I've lost enough money in this business, and I'm not willing to put any more of my money into it (46 team) and run the car without a sponsor," he said.

The car is currently sponsored by First Union, but has yet to receive a commitment from anyone for next year.

"We have several sponsors we're talking to," Sabates said. "I think Jeff Green is one of those guys who has tremendous potential. I really believe if I could get a sponsor, in a year or two Jeff Green would be one of those guys like Jeff Burton. He's one of those late comers, but he's still young enough. He's 35 years old. I hate like hell not to have a team for him, but I'd hate to show up in Daytona in February with a blank car.

"That car has not done well this year. We started out bad missing the Daytona 500 with Wally Dallenbach. Wally missed five races with that team, and it just never worked. If we get a sponsor, I'm going to make a wholesale change in that team. I've got some people I talked to. I don't want to fire anybody. I'll just reposition some people. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Jeff Green. I really believe he's going to be a superstar."

But whether or not Sabates can wait for that to happen is the question. When it comes to teams, two is definitely better than one, but is three better than two?

Two of the three Hendrick teams have won NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships (Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte), but the third has really struggled. The same goes for the dominant Ford team on the circuit -- Roush Racing. Mark Martin and Jeff Burton have had successful years, but the other three teams have not been able to keep pace.

"My budget for this year was 21 million dollars," Sabates said. "It's 24 for next year if I had three cars. It's 19 if I run two cars. The third car doesn't cost you quite as much. It's very expensive. I've got two great sponsors in BellSouth and Coors. They realize you've got to have money to win.

"It's not that hard with existing sponsors. Coors has been in racing longer than I've been in racing, so they understand. BellSouth understands, too, but if you go talk to a new sponsor and tell him you need $8 million and they'll look at you like you're from outer space. But that's what it takes. If you've got one team, you've got to have $8 million. There won't be any single-car teams three years from now. They're dinosaurs. I'm glad Ricky won Martinsville and can continue his streak. He won the race fair and square, but he wouldn't have won the race if Sterling didn't break. We broke and he won, and that's the way it goes."

Sabates says he is sending one of his teams to Japan after the season is over.

"Sterling is going to Japan," he said. "We're supposed to announce the City of Phoenix or the State of Arizona as the sponsor. They haven't been able to get the money yet. If that doesn't happen, I'm going to take the car and put my grandkids' names on it. I've got six grandkids, so the money will just come out of their inheritance. I've spent 25 years of my life going back and forth to Japan. I love Japan, but I don't want to go for four days. If I was going to go for two weeks, it would be great. It's a great country, but for four days ... I'm 56 years old. My body can't take any more. Let the young guys do it."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Joe Nemechek , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Felix Sabates , Mark Martin