NASCAR announces charter system for Sprint Cup team owners

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CHARLOTTE – Breaking more than 65 years of tradition, NASCAR announced a charter system Tuesday for car owners that will guarantee teams spots in races, give owners a greater voice in the sport and refine the financial aspects of the sport.

“Where we ended up is a good place,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in announcing the charter system during a press conference Tuesday at the Charlotte Convention Center.

“It’s going to create more opportunities for new owners to come into the sport. It’s going to have the ability to field more competitive race teams. That’s great for our fans.”

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Said Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance and co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing: “This is just really a foundation. This is the first step in a process. We have put the teams on more stable footing. This allows teams to invest in the future.”

Kauffman estimated that a charter would be worth “single-digits millions” in dollars.

Among the details:

— Charters will be granted to 36 Sprint Cup teams. A charter guarantees a team a spot in every points race.

— Teams can sell their charter. They also can lease their charter for one year. NASCAR must approve new buyers.

— The agreement is for nine years (five years and a four-year option). Teams remain a part of the agreement as long as they are in “good standing.”

— Sprint Cup fields will be reduced to 40 cars, eliminating three starting spots. Teams without charters can compete for the remaining spots in the field. Average car counts per race have not been more than 45 since 2012 after being as high as 50 in 2007.

— A Team Owner Council will be created and have formal input into major decisions, such as rules. Each chartered team will represented. The council is expected to be involved in how the sport is governed. NASCAR will still oversee the sport. This makes the communication process more formal.

— NASCAR states this agreement “promotes a more predictable, sustainable and valuable team business mode.’’

— Teams will be allowed a maximum four charters.

— There are provisions in place for NASCAR to approve of new owners coming in a purchasing a charter.