Should NASCAR further limit an organization’s car count?
Last year, I wrote a column about what my vision for NASCAR would be in 10 years’ time.
One of what I feel were one of the more interesting things I wrote about at the time was the idea of NASCAR going to more of a rigid Formula 1-style system for team ownership, namely that the Cup Series would be made up of 20 organizations that would all field two cars apiece.
It’s never been clearer at this point that NASCAR has the interest to implement that rule right now, though it would have to give existing teams time to splinter off.
There are 12 Cup organizations now that either field two cars full time or own more than one charter: Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports (which co-owns the No. 51 charter), Rick Ware Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske, Front Row Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
It’s fair to say that Trackhouse Racing Team has a desire to run a second car eventually, especially with how successful the team has been with finding sponsorship. 23XI Racing very obviously will expand at some point.
Kaulig Racing has the resources to run two Cup cars, which Matt Kaulig did not rule out last month when announcing the team was moving up. And then there is JR Motorsports, which makes this listing 16 organizations if it were to choose to move up.
.@JRMotorsports, which won today's Xfinity race at Darlington, is still having internal talks about the possibility of starting a Cup program, @DaleJr told SBJ yesterday.
?: "We’re motivated to learn whether this is the time to do it or not. I think it’s probably now or never." pic.twitter.com/4uDO9yqnhk
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 8, 2021
On top of that, if NASCAR were to announce a two-car limit, say, come 2025, all four major teams with more than two cars can break away pretty easily. SHR and JGR could simply sell charters to new perspective team owners not necessarily being thrown around for team ownership (hey, Floyd Mayweather), Penske would probably just transfer a car to the Wood Brothers and Hendrick would split with JRM, in which Rick Hendrick could retain a minority stake.
That would bring us to 19 organizations, with 17 of them already being in the sport and one, The Money Team, that is around in some form. Pretending nobody else would be interested in a NASCAR team, 18 teams would mean the same amount of charters that are already in the series.
So even right now, the situation of NASCAR not having what it defines as a full Cup field would not come up under this fashion. It would be an ugly start for the top teams, but a two-car team cap would pay off big in the long run as far as bringing more competitive cars to the racetrack.
Where will NASCAR go next?
Sports Business Daily reported last week that NASCAR is considering street races in Mexico City and Denver in addition to its Chicago project, while Ben Kennedy told the publication that the sanctioning body was eyeing a race in the Northwest.
.@BenKennedy33 says NASCAR has started putting together preliminary drafts of the 2022 schedule.
➖ He eventually wants to expand its schedule presence to the Pacific Northwest and broader North America. https://t.co/IY8mEitom8
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 7, 2021
Mexico City and Denver are among the possible locations for future NASCAR street races, on top of the current primary target in Chicago, per sources. pic.twitter.com/zC2L9eyTIa
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 7, 2021
A Mexico City return is interesting. Does the series have a race on a new street configuration or using the public roads used by Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez? The problem with Mexico City wasn’t race quality, it was with travel costs incurred by the teams with getting there. But the rights fees generated by a single Cup race would make things make sense from a financial perspective. And races in Denver and the Northwest would be markets for NASCAR untapped on a Cup level.
Street courses do not draw as many fans as ovals do, but that really doesn’t matter now with major sports. It’s all about what makes for the best and most interesting TV product.
I subscribe to the Matt Weaver idea that NASCAR should just turn the Clash and the All-Star Race into the 37th and 38th races, respectively.
NASCAR has a lot of options, but at the same time it has to work within a somewhat strict framework when it comes to who controls the race dates. It must have two dates with Dover Motorsports, which owns Dover International Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway. But a big positive it has going for it now in this respect is that Marcus Smith doesn’t seem nearly as stubborn and combative as his father was.
Bruton Smith would never hold a dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, potentially move on from Kentucky Speedway just a decade after buying it, openly muse about doing something at North Wilkesboro Speedway or take a race from Texas Motor Speedway to promote at another track in Texas he doesn’t actually own. Marcus did all of that, on top of his first big move, the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
It would not surprise me in a few years’ time that, even if NASCAR does pull the trigger on the Clash and the All-Star Race, not many tracks have two dates on the calendar. The only ones that seem pretty safe would be Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte, Darlington Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (due to the money SMI gets from the city), Bristol and probably Auto Club Speedway after it completes its transition to a short track. Of all of the interesting things going on with the schedule right now, the most interesting will be what NASCAR does with that track after next year’s race.
Who can master the Monster Mile?
Dover is the only true oval on the NASCAR circuit today, and it also has the oldest surface in the sport. Unlike other tracks with old surfaces, Dover really isn’t a big tire-wear track due to it being concrete.
It’s still surprising to me that there are just three fully concrete tracks in NASCAR. They may not produce the most consistent racing, but those surfaces can last such a long time. Dover is probably years away from getting any sort of repave.
Martin Truex Jr. seems to have found a groove with second year teammate James Small. Truex considers Dover his home track, and with him starting on the pole, it would be tough for him not to be on your fantasy team.
According to the CDC, do fully vaccinated people need to wear masks now?
No, and that feels good to write.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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NASCAR needs to figure out how to reduce its schedule, not keeping its same number of dates. 30 to 31 races seem to be enough – tough choices to make, but closing Atlanta, Kentucky, Chicago, & taking a race from Dover, Pocono, and Kansas City makes the most sense. Then put Indy, COTA, and perhaps another track on a three-year rotation. And finally let’s add Iowa to the schedule- who’d disagree with that?
I love the race track in Newton, but it can’t attract as many fans as Knoxville does only a few miles away. Its a much needed short track, but Nascar would rather build one in California rather than race one that already exists. Let’s see how many people fill the stands for the truck race at Knoxville this year. My guess is that their will be no ‘backstretchers’ to cheer.
Give up one of your favorite tracks! Leave KS Speedway alone!
As your thesis suggests, cutting teams down to 2 won’t really relinquish control of charters. It will just force a ‘shell game’ of ownership much like it did when Jack Roush dared to be successful with 5 teams and created the ‘rule of 4’. Formula 1 also has become less of a model in recent years. The teams can buy other teams engines which used to be forbidden. They also have ‘technical alliances’ with the few big teams. Nascar should be doing backflips because the charter values are going up. A great time for Ganassi to cash out to Jr (and put Theresa into heart palpitations).
With everyone concerned about cost, since the next TV contract will likely not pay as well, plus sponsorship dollars are scarce, why the hell would anyone make the teams incur the added expense of going to Mexico City? For that matter, why expand to the Northwest? I don’t see Seattle as being a big TV market every week, but Nashville sure is. As for elimination of the two wasted weeks of all star events…cut ’em… and do whatever it takes to get the schedule out of the NFL regular season. TV viewership dips during the Playoffs because of the competition with football. It should be where Nascar peaks to attract new fans…and mid-week shows aren’t the answer as last year showed. Double headers, no vacations, or shorter schedules are the options.
Agreed. Increase the number of charters. Don’t penalize successful teams for being successful.
The “limit” on teams now is 4. How is that working out? But maybe the problem of getting sponsor backing will do the job of reducing the car count.
Thirty six races are just fine. Racers will race elsewhere if the season is shorter. Don’t need gimmick races ie: all star etc. Also, shorten the season and get rid of more jobs, let supply and demand determine tracks and numbers. I have always thought that rotating some of the races between tracks was a great idea. Let the fans dictate which tracks survive.
You do realize that limiting teams to 2 cars will raise the cost per car, right? The economies of scale lower the cost per car with 4 vs. 2.
I agree with you, I’d prefer 2 cars per team as well, I just thought I’d point that out since cost cutting seems to be a goal as well.
NASCAR can not do anything to cut costs. Teams have $x to spend & will spend it. If NASCAR creates a rule to control costs (define which shocks will be used for example) the teams will spend the money freed up from shock research on something else. It’s a whack-a-mole scenario & NASCAR should except that they can’t control what teams spend and stop trying to.
Teams & alliances between teams limits the aggression of the drivers. A driver isn’t going to be aggressive (bumping, pushing, not necessary wrecking) trying to pass a teammate because he will have to answer to his owner if it goes wrong. It makes to sport boring. The Busch/Craven finish at Darlington could never have happened if they were teammates. Large teams & alliances reduces the chances of these battles.
All that’s true but it doesn’t change the fact that economies of scale exist. If in order to be competitive with the top tier teams you need to buy a piece of machinery that costs 2 million dollars, if you have 4 teams, it costs $500,000 per team. If you only have 2 teams it costs $1,000,000 per team. Assuming both organizations are getting the same amount from their sponsors, the organization with 4 teams now has an extra $1,000,000 to spend on something else.
There used to be 43-car fields with cars left over, the Darlington race last week had 37. There should not be ANY limits right now on how many cars a team can own; it’s an unenforceable rule to begin with, with “satellite” teams using the top teams’ equipment.
The biggest reason we have so much parity in the sport today is multi-car teams. Back in the days before Hendrick’s two-car team experiment, races were often won by multiple laps. Multi-car teams changed that situation and made each race MUCH more competitive. That isn’t the only reason for better competition, but I believe it’s one of the essential ones.
There have been nine different race winners this year in 12 races, but other than the typical plate race win that occasionally comes from a second tier team, all of this year’s winners have come from three teams. That’s a GOOD thing. Give great drivers a chance to drive equipment that the existing stars are already piloting.
I can’t imagine why at a time when the sport is struggling to fill fields, NASCAR would place limits on the availability of competitive drivers and teams. It’s SPORTS for God’s sake. If one team is dominating and following the rules (which, incidentally, isn’t even happening – there are three outstanding teams right now with 11 total drivers), it’s up to the other teams to figure out how to beat them. They will. They always do.
Everyone remember when NASCAR’s initiative to crack down on multi-car teams became a thing? It was when Dale Junior’s fan base complained that that was the reason he wasn’t winning. There was a whole lot less complaining when he went to Hendrick Motorsports…in fact there was going to be a limit of three cars per team implemented before Junior’s joining Hendrick.
I don’t claim to know everything about this issue, but NASCAR’s efforts to legislate parity have almost always blown up in their faces, and limiting a team’s cars is a shining example of it.
My mistake, ten different race winners this year.
ABSOLUTELY NOT !! WHO CARES WHERE THE MONEY IS IF THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HAVE SIX TEAMS SO BE IT THAT JUST MEANS BETTER RACE . SOME OF THE BEST RACING IS WITHIN THE IN THE GIBBS TEAM, LOOK AT PENSKE THERE’S SOME COMPETITION. GET RID OF THE FIELD FILLER TEAMS. THEN MOVE SOME OF THE DRIVERS INTO A GOOD SEAT SEE WHAT HAPPENS. I KNOW I KNOW GIVE THE BEGINNING TEAMS A BREAK IF THEY DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO COMPETE THEN SO BE IT. LET’S GET BACK TO PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING THAT’S WHERE NASCAR SHOULD BE
The absolute dumbest thing Nascar does now is to count laps till they get to sudden death. Most of the time it’s boring an virtually gives the race to the front two rows. RED FLAG ALL CAUTIONS UNDER 10 OR 12 OR 15 LAPS TO GO. MAKE IT INTERESTING!!!