NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Field Shrinks to 40 Cars As Part of New Team Owner Charter Program

Michael Campbell February 9, 2016 DM Racing Center

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – As select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams make their way down to Daytona International Speedway in Florida for the running of the non-points-earning Sprint Unlimited exhibition race, NASCAR officials held a press conference in Charlotte Tuesday announcing a landmark long-term agreement between team owners that officials say will “provide teams with increased business certainty and the ability to work more closely” with the sport.

“Today represents a landmark change to the business model of team ownership in NASCAR,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. “The Charter agreements provide nine years of stability for NASCAR and the teams to focus on growth initiatives together with our track partners, auto manufacturers, drivers and sponsors. The Charters also are transferable, which will aid in the development of long-term enterprise value for Charter members.”

In total, there are 36 charter teams, distributed among 19 organizations. According to the sport, those initial 36 teams were chosen based on their “long-term commitment to the sport” by attempting to quality every week for the past three years.

Those 36 teams are as follows. Within those criteria, three teams who competed full-time in 2015 do not have Charters, Stewart-Haas Racing’s #41 Chevrolet driven by Kurt Busch, the #19 of Carl Edwards fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, and the #46 H. Scott Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Michael Annet.

As part of the Charter agreement, the starting field for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will shrink by three, down to 40 cars beginning at the season-opening Daytona 500. With those 36 Charter teams locked into the field, the final four positions of the field will be filled by “non-Charter, or Open” teams.

Along with the reduction in field size, a “hard cap” of four cars has been set for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams, with the previously allowed practice of fielding a fifth car for rookie drivers coming to an end starting in the 2016 season.

That Charter “guarantees entry into the field for every Sprint Cup Series points race,” NASCAR officials stress, adding that qualifying speeds will continue to determine the raceday line-up.

Similar to the five-year sanctioning agreements that NASCAR begins with tracks in 2016, team owner Charter agreements allow for longer planning cycles around competition, innovation, digital marketing, governance and research and development.

“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,” said Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. “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 said those Charter teams will be “held to a minimum performance standard,” adding that “if a Charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings among all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive seasons, NASCAR has the right to remove the Charter.”

In addition, teams are allowed to sell those Charters on the open market and the sport said those prices paid for Charters will be made openly available in an effort to maintain transparency.

“The new team owner agreements will offer a more appealing environment for both current and prospective team owners at the NASCAR premier series level,” France said. “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.”

Copyright 2016 by Hermes Publications

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