It’s official: NASCAR will implement a five-year charter agreement with Sprint Cup team owners that reduces the race field from 43 to 40 cars and guarantee starting positions for chartered teams in every race.
NASCAR will award 36 charters to teams who competed full-time in the Cup Series since 2013 based on longevity for each individual team in the series. There is an additional four-year option, which would extend the agreement to nine years, though the 2024 season.
The charters will be determined based on each individual team as opposed to the owner’s organization, which means that the No. 19 of Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 41 of Stewart-Haas Racing will not initially receive one. Organizations can, however, sell their charters to the highest bidder, and that should put the two from the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing Nos. 15 and 55 up for grabs, and it’s likely that these two teams will put up the money to purchase them.
In addition to guaranteed starting spots, chartered teams will receive additional revenue from various areas, including digital operations. The system also makes teams attractive to sponsors, as they will not miss races. It also allows teams to focus on improving their raceday packages without having to worry about how it will affect qualifying for the race.
Teams without charters will be able to compete for four open spots in each race, which will go to the four fastest qualifiers among those unchartered teams. There are currently 38 Sprint Cup teams expected to attempt the full 36-race schedule this year.
“The new Charter program strengthens each of our businesses individually and the team model as a whole, which is good for NASCAR, our fans, drivers, sponsors and the thousands of people who we employ,” Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and president of the Race Team Alliance, said in a NASCAR press release Tuesday. “This will give us more stability and predictability, and it will allow us to take a more progressive, long-term approach to issues.
“NASCAR and the teams share a desire to preserve, promote and grow the sport and ultimately produce great racing for our fans and partners. These common goals served as the foundation for discussions and helped bring us to this unprecedented agreement. This is a great step forward for the entire sport made possible by Brian France setting a new course for the NASCAR industry and the owners coming together on shared issues. Everyone involved then compromised a bit to be able to come up with something that worked for all.”
NASCAR Chairman Brian France added, “The new team owner agreements will offer a more appealing environment for both current and prospective team owners at the NASCAR premier series level. I’ve always stressed that if we can do things to improve the business of our stakeholders, we will pursue it. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished today with this agreement.”
An announcement on how the system will affect the unique qualifying format for the upcoming Daytona 500 is expected later this week.
The Charter System At a Glance:
- 36 teams awarded charters
- Sprint Cup field reduced from 43 to 40 cars
- 36 chartered teams guaranteed starting spot in every points-paying race
- Four additional teams qualify on speed
- Five-year deal between NASCAR and team owners runs the duration of the current TV contract, with a 4-year option to extend
- Teams can sell charters to the highest bidder
- Owners will receive additional revenue through charters
- Sponsorship will still make up most of teams’ budgets
Teams receiving charters:
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates: Nos. 1 and 42
Team Penske: Nos. 2 and 22
Richard Childress Racing: Nos. 3, 27 and 31
Stewart-Haas Racing: Nos. 4, 10 and 14
Hendrick Motorsports: Nos. 5, 24, 48 and 88
Roush Fenway Racing: Nos. 6, 16, and 17
Tommy Baldwin Racing: No. 7
Joe Gibbs Racing: Nos. 11, 18 and 20
Germain Racing: No. 13
Michael Waltrip Racing: Nos. 15 and 55 (team closed after 2015 season)
HScott Motorsports: No. 15 (was No. 51)
BK Racing: Nos. 23 and 83
Go FAS Racing: No. 32
Front Row Motorsports: Nos. 34 and 38
Richard Petty Motorsports: Nos. 43 and 44
JTG Daugherty Racing: No. 47
Premium Motorsports: No. 62
Furniture Row Racing: No. 78
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing: No. 95
Teams NOT receiving charters at this time:
Joe Gibbs Racing: No. 19
Wood Brothers Racing: No. 21
Stewart-Haas Racing: No. 41
HScott Motorsports: No. 46
About the author
Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.