DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR confirmed Friday that it set the criteria that left the Wood Brothers without a charter and the guarantee of starting every Sprint Cup points race this season.
The admission comes a day after NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio it was “disappointing” that the Wood Brothers didn’t receive a charter.
“The criteria that was ultimately used obviously didn’t permit that,’’ France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, “and that is disappointing because they are such an iconic part of NASCAR.’’
NASCAR granted 36 charters and issued them to teams that had run full seasons each of the past three years. The Wood Brothers, who first competed in a NASCAR event in 1953, were not eligible because they last ran a full schedule in 2008. Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing also did not receive a charter for the teams of Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch because they did not meet the eligibility.
Fans have blamed Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, for the Wood Brothers’ woes since he received two charters for Michael Waltrip Racing’s defunct operation. Those have been transferred to JGR and Stewart-Haas Racing.
“The decision of who was awarded charters or not was entirely NASCAR’s,’’ Kauffman told NBC Sports on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “Rob Kauffman did not have a role nor did the RTA in deciding who got charters and who didn’t. That was entirely NASCAR’s discretion.’’
Even so, that’s not changed how the Wood Brothers feel about Kauffman.
When they were asked Friday if they felt they “got screwed” by not receiving a charter while Kauffman did, they were ready.
Jon Wood, a third-generation racer who oversees the Wood Brothers’ business development, turned to his uncle Len, and father Eddie, co-owners of the team, and said: “If we got one of these questions, it was don’t answer it?’’
The family did say that they have “resigned” from the Race Team Alliance. They join Furniture Row Racing as the only full-time teams that are not members of the owner group. Furniture Row Racing’s Barney Visser declined to join the RTA when it was formed in July 2014 and has maintained that status although his team is eligible for join.
Despite the split, Kauffman said he has “the highest respect for the Wood Brothers and their organization.’’
For those upset that Kauffman received the two MWR charters, he defended receiving those and cautioned about what could have happened.
“Like any system, when you draw the line somewhere someone isn’t going to be happy,’’ he told NBC Sports. “The idea that I had some kind of evil genus to reorganize this is incorrect. MWR ran full-time, 100 percent full-time cars since inception. We invested millions and millions and millions of dollars doing so.
“If MWR had continued to run in 2016, there would have been even more pressure on the system because there wouldn’t have been two (charters) freed up.’’