Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Who Would Be the Best Fit to Buy JTG’s Charter?

With a rumored ownership shakeup at JTG Daugherty Racing, which team would be the best fit to buy its charter in a potential sale?

Mark Kristl: Trackhouse Racing. Between Shane van Gisbergen, Connor Zilisch and Zane Smith, the organization has three talented drivers. Yes, Smith drives full time in the NASCAR Cup Series, but he drives under a Spire Motorsports charter. Speaking of Spire, it has Rajah Caruth in its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program, not to mention other Chevrolet drivers might be ready to race full time in Cup sooner than later, such as Richard Childress Racing duo Jesse Love and Austin Hill. Spire has worked with other Chevy teams to fill its Truck lineup in the past, so the JTG charter is best served going to Trackhouse to allow Spire to have its No. 71 charter available for another Cup-ready prospect.

Austin Bass: Concerns regarding the long-term viability of the charter system aside, Trackhouse would make the most sense to acquire a third charter. It is one of the few competitive organizations with room to expand as it currently fields two teams, and it has shown the willingness to spend more than the going rate purchasing charters in the past. It’ll need to decide that again soon — the price of charters continues to skyrocket ever since it purchased Chip Ganassi Racing and kicked off the buying spree that has led us to this point — and it has an excess of developmental talent on its payroll vying for its coveted spots on the Cup starting grid. A third charter would alleviate many of those stressors.

Steve Leffew: Trackhouse is the obvious answer, but I’m going with RFK Racing. It’s been a four-car team before and seems to be rebounding. A third car would give it another data point and take another step in the rebuild toward its former glory.

Josh Calloni: Trackhouse, RFK or 23XI Racing are best in line to expand with the JTG charter sale. Trackhouse already has the Spire charter leased out for Smith, and with the emergence of van Gisbergen, the team conceivably has four Cup-quality drivers for three charters as it stands. The other two teams have seen improved success over the last two years while running with two-car operations.

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Alex Bowman is making his 300th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover Motor Speedway. How do you assess his career so far?

Bass: Only 69 drivers in the history of Cup have won more times in 75 years than Alex Bowman. He isn’t Hall of Fame-worthy at this point in his career, but seven is a respectable number of victories in such a competitive era. Doing so in the famed No. 48 is all the more an accomplishment given the pressure that was placed upon him as he tried to follow in the footsteps of the giant who preceded him. His old-school journey to the top of the sport was not paved in gold like it is for many modern drivers. He raced many of his 300 starts in underfunded equipment, outperformed the racecars provided for him and kept himself on the radar for team owners to notice his talent and determination. Bowman is only 30 years old, so he’ll likely continue upward on the all-time wins list as he approaches his prime and continues building on a solid career.

Calloni: Bowman has had a nice career so far. Making a name for himself after years of running for smaller teams and winning seven times in the Cup Series is nothing to scoff at. He often gets compared to his teammates, each of whom is at the top of the sport performance-wise, but Bowman is definitely not a pushover.  

Leffew: Bowman didn’t get into a competitive ride until 2018. Since then he’s won seven races but missed races due to injury in 2022 and 2023. He’s been better than many drivers who drove for Hendrick Motorsports, including respected competitors Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven and Joe Nemechek. But he’s always been third or fourth fiddle on its stacked teams in recent years. Bowman is a good driver, but not as good as some of his teammates who will likely end up in the Hall of Fame.

Kristl: Bowman has enjoyed a mildly successful career. Three top-15 points finishes, seven wins and the ability to take advantage of his rides with underfunded BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing to land his current ride. Yet Bowman’s only had one season with multiple wins, and he only has seven career Cup wins. Compared to his Hendrick teammates, he’s underperformed. He is also north of 30 years old, so he’s not a young hotshot prospect. So unless Bowman wins this year and or makes a solid playoff run, he very well could begin 2025 on the hot seat due to not meeting HMS standards.

Are you concerned about the lack of a charter agreement for 2025?

Bass: As much as I am intrigued by the politicking and posturing by the two sides of this turf war, I am not concerned about an agreement being reached between NASCAR and the Race Team Alliance. Ultimately, NASCAR has the upper hand here, and it’ll bring down the hammer if it has to. It owns the racecars, the racetracks and the media rights. The race teams are just lucky to be there. These organizations don’t even own the rights to the drivers on their payrolls. They are independent contractors that would be happy to show up for next year’s Daytona 500 in cars owned and prepared by Satan himself if the teams breach their contracts with drivers by boycotting the race. And I’ll be happy to watch.

Kristl: No. The new media rights deal was signed about six months ago, and that held up negotiations. The lack of an agreement reminds me of when MLB players went on strike to begin the 2023 season. Nobody wanted the baseball season to get delayed, shortened or anything worse. The same goes for NASCAR. Even though the two sides have not agreed yet on a deal, everybody knows interfering with the start of the 2025 season will be catastrophic. Furthermore, both sides want the charter system to continue; it’s a matter of how long and the financials that are holding up the deal. Additionally, keep in mind NASCAR usually does not announce its schedules for the next season until at least halfway through the current one. A charter deal will get done before the 2025 Daytona 500.

Calloni: Yes and no. These things tend to take time, but agreements can come together quickly. I liken it to the MLB lockout of 2021 when an agreement came together within a few weeks of talks after the holidays that year. With it only being April, there is plenty of time to work out an agreement, but the clock is definitely ticking. If there isn’t any progress in the next two or three months, there will definitely be reason to worry.

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How far can new victor Jesse Love go in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs?

Calloni: He can easily be a Championship 4 contender. Through the first handful of races, Love has shown very good speed, almost every week. He struggled to finish off races to start his Xfinity career, not earning a top 10 until the fourth race of the season. Since then, however, he’s finished inside the top 10 in each race and is only getting better now that he’s found victory lane. He’ll find himself making a deep playoff run, for sure. 

Leffew: Love has been so impressive and is still getting better. He will challenge Hill to be the top Xfinity driver at Richard Childress Racing. I don’t think he’s ready to make it to the Championship 4 yet, but he can make the Round of 8.

Bass: As predicted before the season began, it was only a matter of time before Love found victory lane. Now that he is locked into the playoffs, he can begin preparing for the tracks that Xfinity will visit when the Round of 12 begins. And wouldn’t you know it, Talladega is in the first round. Love should easily find himself in the Round of 8, but advancing into the Championship 4 will be much more difficult as intermediate tracks are not the strong suit of RCR. Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be challenging, but if Love can make it to the championship round at Phoenix Raceway, where he finished second earlier this season, the rookie could be the odds-on favorite to take home the title.

Kristl: Love’s trajectory mirrors Sammy Smith’s. Both parlayed their successful ARCA Menards Series careers into full-time, top-tier NXS rides. Smith made the Round of 8 in his rookie Xfinity season; Love will do the same with at least another victory this season. Love is still a rookie, though, so he won’t make it all the way to the Championship 4.

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

Austin Bass joined Frontstretch in 2024 as a contributor to combine his passion for racing and writing. Born in Wilson, NC, he developed a passion for racing at an early age while attending local short tracks on Saturday nights with his dad and watching the stars of the sport from their living room on Sunday afternoons.

Bass is a graduate of UNC-Wilmington with a degree in Communication Studies where he developed a deep understanding, appreciation, and love for the Oxford comma. He is an industrial degreaser salesman for Cox Industries whenever he is not writing or talking about racing.

Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023, and covers the Xfinity Series. He resides in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan as long as he can remember. He has served honorably in the United States Air Force and works during the week as a Real Estate Lender.

Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University

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