Mayfield applies for Cup ownership

CONCORD, N.C. -- Jeremy Mayfield is among 15 people who have applied for ownership in the Sprint Cup series this season, NASCAR officials said on Thursday.

Among the others are Tommy Baldwin, Joe Nemechek, Kevin Butler, Buddy Cisco and Larry Gunselman. A full list was not available.

NASCAR officials have no idea how many races the teams will run or under what manufacturer they will run. Only Baldwin, a former crew chief, has said he plans to run a full season with Toyota support.

"It could be a one-shot Hail Mary for the Daytona 500," Cup series director John Darby said of the others.

Mayfield, who made the Chase in 2004 and 2005 at Evernham Motorsports, is optimistic he'll be at next month's opener in Daytona Beach and many more races.

"We've applied and we're 99.9 percent sure it's going to be a really, really good deal and work out for us," he said. "I always said I didn't want to own my own team. But everything that has come together, I feel like it's an opportunity I cannot do."

Nemechek, who owns NEMCO Motorsports, said in a statement Friday that he's planning to run the full Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedule. He'll drive the No. 87 Toyota Camry in the Cup Series and the No. 87 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in Nationwide races.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France and president Mike Helton are encouraged that new cost-saving measures, such as eliminating testing and the implementation of the new car, may make it easier for new ownership to enter the sport.

"That means there's hope out there," Helton said. "That means there is a belief that there might be opportunity to enter a car in a Cup event, and that's important to us."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said the governing body will be on the watch for teams that try to show up to make the field, take a few laps and go home simply for the paycheck.

Last place for the 2008 Daytona 500 paid $256,735.

"We're on watch for about anything," Pemberton said. "There will be people that will try to abuse any type of system no matter what it is. We think there will be a greater number of people that see an opportunity to compete and get into every race.

"It's a pretty healthy paycheck. There's enough hard-core racers out there, potential team owners that want to put a stake in the game and make a run at it."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.