Report: NASCAR and Sprint Cup teams moving closer to charter system

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NASCAR and Sprint Cup teams are moving closer to an agreement that would guarantee teams starting spots for all races this season, according to a report by the Sports Business Journal.

Both sides said last month they were “cautiously optimistic” a deal could be done before the Feb. 21 Daytona 500.

Sports Business Journal, citing sources, reported Monday that both sides are examining the contract.

“Like most things, the devil’s in the details,” Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, told Sports Business Journal. “It’s a multiyear agreement, so it’s important that details are right.”

The report states the agreement would be for five years – matching the length of recent agreements NASCAR did with tracks that play host to Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races.

By being granted a guaranteed spot in every race via a “charter,” teams would be able to assure sponsors they would not miss an event. A charter system also would allow teams to better forecast race earnings and provide greater value should an owner seek to sell their stake. The report states that original plans called for 36 charters for a 40-car field, which would be down from the 43-car field run this past season.

Car owners have been lobbying NASCAR for years to implement a franchising-style system similar to other professional sports, arguing that their teams have little value without sponsorship. Since 2011, Michael Waltrip Racing, Swan Racing, Red Bull Racing are Sprint Cup teams that have closed. MWR announced last season that it would not continue after Kauffman left as co-owner to be a co-owner at Chip Ganassi Racing.

David Higdon, NASCAR vice president of integrated marketing communications, said in a statement to NBC Sports: “NASCAR and NASCAR team owners all have a common goal to make our sport strong and competitive for decades to come, and there has been progress toward that goal. There still is work to be done so it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Sports Business Journal reported that key negotiators – including NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark and Kauffman – worked through the holidays and held a conference call on Christmas Eve.