An unlikely convergence of opinion has Jeff Gordon and Jack Roush on the same page. Both the Hendrick Motorsports driver and the Roush Fenway Racing team owner would like to see NASCAR's ban on testing become just that - a total ban on testing.

Within hours of NASCAR's November announcement at Homestead-Miami Speedway of the ban on testing at tracks that sponsor events in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Camping World Truck and Camping World East and West Series, Roush sought other owners' support for a pledge to ban testing entirely.

"If we could organise a situation where all the established teams would hold hands and resolve not to test outside of the NASCAR mandated or approved testing, not go to the skid pads, not go to Canada, not to go to Pikes Peak or any of the places they're checking on, I'd be happier with that than to skirt around," Roush said.

"If everybody else does it, we may have to do it, too, but that's certainly not in the spirit of trying to save the teams money and trying to operate in these severe economic circumstances."

It doesn't look as though other owners will be singing "Kumbaya" with Roush, however - not with the testing activity that's already earmarked for Rockingham, a speedway in North Carolina that doesn't host an event in any of the relevant series.

But testing at Rockingham - or anywhere else, for that matter - flies in the face of NASCAR's expressed purpose in banning testing in the first place. The policy is designed to save money in a difficult economy, something that won't happen if teams continue to test at far-flung sites not covered by NASCAR's ban.

Gordon, for one, doesn't think there's a test ban at all.

"You don't want to get me started on the test ban, 'cause I'm confused by the test ban right now," Gordon said after the Dec. 5 Sprint Cup awards banquet in New York. "As far as I'm concerned, we're going to be going to Rockingham every week, so there's no test ban."

Gordon spotted Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton across the room.

"They say there's a test ban - I'm trying to figure out what test ban," Gordon called to Burton.

"There isn't one," Burton retorted.

Gordon said his Hendrick Motorsports team hadn't been testing in December, but he knew of others who already were on the track.

"We're not, but I know plenty of teams that have been," Gordon said, citing Red Bull Racing and Childress as two organisations that had tested since the season finale at Homestead. "The Goodyear tyre tests are going to become very crucial, and everybody's going to really be pushing and lobbying hard to get those tests, because that's the tire we race on at the tracks we race on.

"The testing ban - like everything that happens when NASCAR implements a plan - we all screw it up, because we find out the holes. Rockingham right now, I believe, is a little bit of a hole, even though it's not the ideal track for us to test on. As long as there are tires for us to test on, we will be going to some track.

"I hope that we go there and find out that it doesn't help us much, 'cause I'd really like it to be a test ban. If it's a test ban, let's make it a test ban. Let's not have any testing. Nowhere - even non-NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. Let's really save costs and let's see what happens to the competition in races."

A total test ban would be difficult to police, but there are few secrets in the NASCAR garage, and if a team were violating a total ban on testing, word would get out eventually.

If race teams are unwilling to observe both the spirit and the letter of the no-testing policy, then NASCAR should extend the ban to all tracks and enforce the cost savings the ban is designed to achieve.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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