I have to say from time to time I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. On Monday I caught wind NASCAR would have an important press conference on Tuesday. Like most people, I was curious of what the big announcement would be. Like most people again, I simply could not wait the roughly 24 hours for the actual announcement. Like most people one more time, I go where most NASCAR fans go to get news that has not been officially announced, Jayski.com. NASCAR to announce a charter system.
I mentioned that I am not the brightest bulb at times, so what was the first thing I think of when I read charter system? Well, I have to admit, two things. First I thought that the NASCAR teams were simply pooling their resources for flights and the teams would travel together to the races. The next idea had a strange political thought like charter schools. Hey, come on now, it is an election cycle so that may be the reason it popped into my mind. Obviously neither of those thoughts have anything to do with NASCAR’s new charter system.
In the quick high level view of the charter system, teams have purchased starting spots in all the races, guaranteed (Points Races only). This all comes down to finances when you break it all down. Making sure team owners have financial consistency or something like that. Did not hear this term, but sounds like revenue sharing. This system also opens an owners council to work with NASCAR to ensure great racing.
With all changes that come to NASCAR, or really any sport, time will tell whether this will be a good change. Right now, I am very reserved about whether I like this or not. To me, NASCAR, and really any form of motor sports, there is the opportunity for anyone to get involved. Take away the funding that is needed, I understand the great majority of us do not have millions to invest into creating a first class top tier team. Racing allows anyone to build the car, put a driver in it, and compete. That is basically gone now in the Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR further announced that the starting field will now be 40 cars and not 43. I am fine with that, not a big deal there. Four spots though for others to show up and get in. I know, that is counter to me wanting people to have the opportunity to get involved. With this system, to help make opportunity for others to get into the sport, I hope that NASCAR comes up with a relegation system down the road. Do not perform, or not show up to the races, lose your automatic starting spot. It is not that I want just a full field, I want to see the field filled with cars that have the capability of running all of the laps.
Like all things in this world, Sprint Cup teams are a business. Some are run very well, and others are not run well. There are teams with a charter that are going to be run into the ground. See MWR last year. I know that the charters can be sold and apparently leased. Rules regarding this need to be established by NASCAR as well. Minimum requirements need to be in place to ensure that these owners, obviously I am talking about the lower tier teams in Sprint Cup, put forth the best product possible. Maybe these things are in place already and just not part of the big news that was released yesterday.
In closing a reminder I said earlier, we will need a couple of seasons to see how this is going to play out. I realize the teams with the charters are going to make the races anyways. Therefore this change does nothing to change the cars that we will see on the track each week in the races. I simply fear that we will see NASCAR eventually buy the teams and they will provide the cars and drivers for us to root for. I love football, almost as much as racing, but I get tired of the cookie cutter garbage you hear about from the NFL each season. How many times have you heard the NFL referred to as the “No Fun League”. NASCAR has been about ingenuity, speed, and personalities. I want there to be shouting matches on pit road after a race. I want to see the little teams beat the big teams from time to time. (I am a realist and know that does not happen very often.) I want Matt Kenseth to give Little Joey the finger at the Daytona 500 because he has not forgotten last year. Hopefully this system is not leading us away from what makes the Sprint Cup series some of the greatest racing in the world.
Time will tell, and the better news at this point, cars will be on the track for that first taste of the season Saturday night.