NASCAR franchising is back in the news this NASCAR offseason, thanks to — or perhaps blamed on — a report on Monday by the Sports Business Journal, based in the Charlotte area, that said NASCAR and team owners are close to an agreement on a system that is, reportedly, akin to franchising.
“Like most things, the devil’s in the details, Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, the official group of Sprint Cup Series car owners, told the publication. “It’s a multi-year agreement, so its important that details are right.”
Previous reports — ahem (clearing throat) speculation based on reports by unnamed sources — described a probable model as 36 medallions awarded to existing Sprint Cup Series entries, guaranteeing starting spots in races.
Various reports speculating on said model, including one awhile back from yours truly here on AutoRacingDaily.com, race fields would be reduced to 40 cars, down from 43. The 36 teams with medallions would be guaranteed starting spots. The other four would be up for grabs in qualifying.
By guaranteeing starting spots, theoretically, sponsorship should be easier to sell. After all, owners could guarantee sponsors that cars carrying their logos would make races.
Here’s why owners really like the idea, though. Said medallions give race teams value. Take the now-defunct, or at least on its way to becoming defunct, Michael Waltrip Racing. The only value left to that team is whatever equipment, facilities, etc., may be sold for, which isn’t much.
Say what you want about MWR and its checkered past, whethere a team flies right or not, a car owner doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot to show for his investment an efforts when he decides to get out because of retirement or the race team, i.e. his/her business, goes belly-up, so to speak.
While owners are loving the prospect of this new ownership model, and drivers probably don’t give a rat’s you-know-what, a lot of fans seem to be up in arms over it. Their biggest beef seems to be the idea of 36 teams “buying” guaranteed starting spots. And some are having a hissy-fit over the reduced field size.
Are we really going to notice much of a difference? I kinda doubt it. Who really cares about those cars running 41st through 43rd, anyway, except for maybe the drivers and owners of those last three cars?
And, really, are we going to see different cars on the track, as a result? Nope, I don’t think so. What team that regularly made races last year do you think is going to be left without a medallion? As for the others, there will be four remaining spots. Remember, race fields, although reduced, will still be comprised of 40 cars. That leaves four beyond a guaranteed 36.
Besides, there will be four starting spots beyond the 36 guaranteed in, so a team doesn’t necessarily have to buy a high-dollar coin to race. Said team could bust its proverbial butt for one of those final four spots.
At this point, the only question I have is regarding some kind of five-year deal. According to talk, owners and the sanctioning body are working on a five-year deal for this franchise-type model. Five year deal? What happens after five years? Will mediallions be redistributed? I’m confused about that.
Remember, though, nothing’s official. Nothing has been signed, sealed, or delivered. This could very well end up being much ado about nothing. But I’m guessing there’s something to it. After all, meetings are being held. I’m expecting some kind of announcement during the Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte later this month.
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