What if NASCAR teams could keep only two drivers?

Jay Busbee

On Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs noted that the door is now open for JGR to expand to four teams. With the right driver and the right sponsor, the way is clear for JGR to become another of the sport's dominant powers for years to come.

Four cars are the limit on NASCAR teams. That limit doesn't have a significant effect on most teams, with the exception of Roush Fenway Racing, which cut loose Jamie McMurray in order to keep David Ragan (whoops) and Hendrick Motorsports, which has only a slight impediment to total world domination.

But let's turn it in the other direction. What if NASCAR were to drastically cut the number of cars permitted per team, from four to two? (Don't worry, there's no indication that this is anywhere on anybody's radar; we're just having a little round-the-tailgate discussion.) Cutting from five to four generally doesn't put a crimp in talent; cutting from four to two absolutely would. So let's run down the list of major teams and speculate, shall we?

Richard Childress Racing -- Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer: A tough one right out of the gate, with three reliable drivers. But in this case, you go with youth, and that means Burton gets sent packing.

Richard Petty Motorsports -- Elliott Sadler, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard: Kahne is obviously out at the end of this year. Menard brings his own sponsor, which is invaluable. So it's between Dinger and Sadler, and in that battle, Sadler is the loser.

Penske Racing -- Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Sam Hornish Jr.: Kurt Busch isn't going anywhere, and Keselowski has cooled off, but has more upside than Hornish. Jet Ski in; Dances With Walls out.

Roush Fenway Racing -- David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth: Ah, and now it gets very tough. Ragan, obviously, is out. So then you've got three guys of roughly equal ability, but with different appeals to sponsors. Biffle is a good company man and a strong racer, so he's in. Edwards is fast becoming one of NASCAR's top spokesmen, and he's not substantially behind Kenseth in terms of on-track performance, so Carl gets the second spot by a hairsbreadth over Kenseth.

Joe Gibbs Racing -- Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin: Logano could be one of the best drivers of the 2010s, but Busch and Hamlin are two of the best drivers of the moment. They're at the top of their career right now, which means that Logano will have to look elsewhere.

And now, the one you've all been waiting for ...

Hendrick Motorsports -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin: How on earth do you make the choice here? Obviously, Johnson is in. And Martin is sent packing. So it's between Gordon and Earnhardt, NASCAR's two most popular drivers. This will send some people screaming for the hills, but I think you take Earnhardt, at least for the short term, purely for a marketing angle. You build your coffers with endorsement revenue, and then in a couple years you pick up one of the many drivers still out there.

Okay, your turn. This setup leaves an insanely talented group of drivers -- Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin -- on the sidelines. What's your take? Who should go where, who should stay? Have your say.