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NASCAR changed its rules on the champion's provisional Wednesday and that, likely, will affect Dale Jarrett more than anyone.
NASCAR will limit the number of times a former champion may use the champion's provisional to six times for the entire season. Previously, a former champion could use it an unlimited number of times. Darrell Waltrip used it seven times during the 2000 season (although back then the rule was a bit different on how a former champ could use it). Still, you get the point.

Also, a team with a past champion eligible driver may only use this provisional a maximum of six times during a season.

"As NASCAR seeks to place more emphasis on competition, we have decided the time is right to limit the number of provisionals allowed,” said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton in a statement.

“We believe this revision brings the provisional policy in line with the continued growth of the sport.”

Jarrett could be affected the most becuase he is not in the top 35 in car owner points since he's with a new team. Last year's car owner points are used to help set the field for the first five races this season. So, if nothing else, Jarrett could use the champion's provisional for each of the five races for his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota team but then have only one provisional left to use the rest of the season.

The only other former champion outside the top 35 in car owner points to start the season is Bill Elliott. Jarrett gets the provisional over Elliott if both need it because the provisional goes to the most recent champion.

This provisional has been a key to helping teams. Hall of Fame Racing used Terry Labonte in the first five races of last season since it was a new team and didn't have car owner points from the 2005 season. Labonte needed the provisional to make the field in three of the first five races, including the Daytona 500. He then handed off the ride to Tony Raines after the fifth race and only drove the car again in the two road course races.

So, why did NASCAR change this rule?

While Jarrett brings UPS and Toyota to the fold, the series needs to protect other teams trying to compete each week. If there are no eligible drivers to take the champion's provisonal at some races, that means another car makes the field. With the top 35 in car owner points locked in a race, only 8 spots remain. With the champion's provsional taken -- as Jarrett will take at Daytona if he doesn't qualify -- that leaves 7 spots. At Daytona, there likely will be close to 25 cars vying for those 7 spots.That's a lot of teams _ and sponsors _ going home. Recall, Scott Riggs and Valvoline failed to make last year's Daytona 500. That's big.

The move was not unexpected. I wrote about it last week after talking to NASCAR officials about it. It was just a matter of when it would be approved by all parties in NASCAR and announced.
 

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Hmmm, That is one of the BIG reasons they were loking at Dale Jarrett for Toyota was because of the past Champions provisional. Guess that one blew up in there face. I hate it for Dale Jarrett although if Toyota puts good enough equipment underneath dale I don't think he will need the provisional. As for Toyota as a whole. I think it is very Good of Nascar to put them on an even as possible playing field. They need to have to earn those points and starting positions noy have them given to them!!
 

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Don't thank me, thank Justice Fruit Pies!
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I remember Dale Earnhardt used the champion provisionals for quite a few races in the late 90s.
 

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meh, my opinion on it is they let 35 cars a week in the field without problem, but when a champion who is running part-time does its wrong. The need to get rid of that stupid handicap and make it every man for himself, it might make qualyfying may I dare say, interesting?
 

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They should let the top 35, then have the rest compete. I agree with the Champ provisional, the fans and the team deserve it, AS LONG AS THEY ARE WITH THEY WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH!!! That's how these new teams are able to get a car in the field that cannot compete, but still take a spot from someone else. I agree in a way, but save it for someone who won and is with the same team that made him a WINNER!!!
 
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