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NASCAR to examine teams' deals over top-35 places

Danica PatrickNASCAR could review its regulations regarding teams taking on other squads' points to ensure their drivers can qualify for Sprint Cup events.

Under NASCAR rules, the top 35 in the owners' standings from the previous year are guaranteed qualifying spots in the opening five Cup rounds. This has led to various deals being struck and partnerships created between teams to get drivers into the field, including this year an alliance between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing that saw the former's rookie driver Danica Patrick transferred to a Baldwin entry to ensure qualification for the early races.

NASCAR's senior vice president for racing operations Steve O'Donnell said he accepted fans had concerns about the practice.

"We know it's a challenging one for us," O'Donnell told reporters at Daytona. "We're aware of what the fans think. We'd rather be talking about what's going on on the racetrack. The Daytona 500 is a huge thing for the sport, but it has this piece attached to it."

O'Donnell said the series organisers were looking at ensuring such deals were arranged further in advance.

"These deals have come together later and later, which is more and more challenging to explain," he said. "So do you look at a deadline at the end of the season where we put things in place?

"Again, that could be challenging for some owners, but that may be something we need to look at to have that be one of the stories going into the off-season, and then as we go into Daytona, we're talking about racing."

But he insisted that alliances that that between Baldwin and Tony Stewart's squad could be positive for the sport.

"If you go back into history, there have been a lot of partnerships that have been put together that have allowed teams to get back on their feet a little bit. This is part of that as well," O'Donnell said.

"I would say helping Tommy as well was a part of this. Obviously, we can't show favouritism. But that's part of the best interest of the sport, having an owner like Tommy Baldwin be healthy. For us, that's a good thing."

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