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I give up on trying to follow where NASCAR charters go

When NASCAR handed out those 36 coveted charters prior to the start of the 2016 Sprint (now-Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series season, there was an uproar that Wood Brothers Racing, the longest-tenured team in NASCAR premier series racing, was slighted. The iconic No. 21 that had been around since the early days of the sport didn’t get a charter. That was because Wood Brothers Racing was a part-time team during the time period NASCAR took into account when determining which teams should initially be given charters. WBR returned to full-time racing in 2016.

Wood Brothers Racing has yet to own a charter, but 2018 will mark the second-straight year the team has raced with one. The team leased a charter owned by Archie St. Hilaire of Go FAS Racing for the 2017 season. NASCAR rules allow for one-year leases on charters, and any given charter may only be leased once in a five-year period. Even so, Wood Brothers Racing is racing with that aforementioned charter, again, in 2018. And, no, WBR didn’t by that charter, either.

Doesn’t make much sense, now, does it? Looks like Wood Brothers Racing and Hilaire have found a NASCAR charter rule loophole. Wood Brothers Racing entered into some kind of partnership with Hilaire that gave Wood Brothers Racing control of said charter, but Hilaire is still the owner of it. And if Wood Brothers Racing is going to have control of a charter, it only makes sense that said charter would be used to guarantee starting spots for its No. 21 Ford. Meanwhile, Hillaire’s No. 32 Go FAS team is going to use a charter acquired from Joe Falk, whose Circle Sport parted ways with TMG.

Huh? Yeah, I’m scratching my head, too. I think this all has been accomplished by owners buying minority ownership stakes in multiple teams, but at this point, I would swear to it.

I understand the original reasoning for the charter system — to add value to race teams, and when the system was first announced and implemented, the rules surrounding transfers of charters seemed pretty clear-cup, easy understand if you will, to me. A team owner could sell his charter to another team owner, or he could lease it to another owner for a one-year period once every five years. Sounded simple enough.

Boy, was I naive.

A, possibly, easy forgotten rule attached to these charters stipulates that a team could lose its charter if it’s consistently one of the poorest-performing teams over a three-year period. “Back markers” or “also rans” have found a way to get around that rule, though, by shuffling these charters around, because the results that determine whether or not a charter is revoked stay with the specific charter, not the race team, itself. As a result, several teams have been dancing a dance of leasing a charter to another team, and then, leasing another charter from another team to use while it’s original charter is leased to someone else and so on, and so forth. The goal of this dance is to get the best results possible with a charter, even if the charter is actually owned by a poorly performing team.

With so much of this “I’ll lease a charter to you for a year, while I race with a charter I leased from someone else” going on, I’ve lost rack with who’s racing with whose charter, and quite frankly, I don’t care anymore, at least beyond having to recover charter transfers for AutoRacingDaily.com or MotorsportMonday.com.

Oh, and if things aren’t confusing enough, a financial institution that is a BK Racing creditor is suing Front Row Motorsports over a charter FRM purchased from BKR, because the financial institution contends that BK Racing’s delinquency gives the institution control of the charter that BKR sold FRM.

Here’s my advice to those trying to figure out where charters have gone the last couple of years — who has a charter and who doesn’t. Sure, the charters are important for the race team, as they determine how big of a piece of the pie they get, but what’s that to us? To me, not much. And with only 39 or 40 cars entering races, the guaranteed starting positions aren’t coming into play. Anyway, my advice — don’t worry about it; I’m not.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autoracingdailyonline).

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Posted by on January 16, 2018. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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