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The 2024 NASCAR Silly Season took a dark turn a few weeks back. Stewart-Haas Racing will be leaving behind a 15-year-old legacy at the cusp of 2025. The 69-time Cup-winning team shutting down is not bittersweet, but downright sad. NASCAR’s ill-placed charter system is to blame for this, as more teams seem slated for SHR’s fate.

With the 2016 charter agreement set to expire this year, the future looks bleak. NASCAR’s executives firmly stand by their decision to deny permanent status to the race teams. Recently, they uncovered a financial aspect of the situation, which left Denny Hamlin furious.

Denny Hamlin calls bluff on NASCAR’s monetary issue

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Last year, NASCAR signed a gargantuan media rights deal, valued at $7.7 Billion. Yet the sanctioning body may be planning to hog most of the pie, even though race teams are struggling. While offering glimmers of hope about larger shares from the broadcast revenue, NASCAR has refused gambling revenue and permanent charter ownership. 23XI Racing owner Michael Jordan called out the top seed’s greed: “If our ownership in NASCAR is losing money and NASCAR’s the only one making money, that’s not a good partnership.”

Now his partner Denny Hamlin reacted to a statement made by the executives. Recently, NASCAR gave a reason for denying teams permanent charters. Journalist Adam Stern updated this on Twitter: “Jim France has reportedly told teams that @NASCAR can’t offer permanent charters because, “We can only support you as long as we are being supported [by media networks].”

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This grossly contradicts the expensive media rights deal signed for 2025 and beyond. Currently, teams receive 39% of the television revenue, tracks get 51%, and NASCAR 10%. Yet other streams of revenue are feeding the executives with surplus money. Thus Denny Hamlin publicly ridiculed France’s reasoning with a five-word reality check: “Permanent charters don’t cost anything.”

 

But the real reason may lie in the exclusive ownership of the racing series. Since 1949, the France family has been running the show, owning most of the racetracks and now the entire racing series. Hence they are reluctant to let race teams have more stakes in the future, as that could deprive them of their authority. Permanent charters would usher in new sponsorships that will defray the teams’ exorbitant costs.

Until or unless NASCAR agrees to the teams’ demand for a permanent charter system, Denny Hamlin is taking a stand. 

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Hamlin is unwilling to loosen purse strings anymore

Two years after the charter system was introduced, Furniture Row Racing sold its charter to Spire Motorsports for $6 Million. But since then, the values faced an uphill climb. Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan purchased a Starcom Racing charter for $21 Million in 2020. Last year’s selling value made jaws drop – Spire bought a Live Fast Motorsports charter for a whopping $40 Million.

Now as Stewart-Haas Racing exits the NASCAR fold, its four charters are up for grabs. But they will be meaningless until NASCAR renews the charter deal. So Denny Hamlin recently declared that he will take no more risk in 23XI Racing until the higher-ups come out with a fair agreement.

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Hamlin said on his ‘Actions Detrimental’ podcast, “So, we have two charters ’til the end of this year and until we get a charter agreement done that’s all we have … I’m not going to put myself in a position to where I’m having to shell out millions and millions of dollars every year to just keep this thing going … so, it has to make financial sense and the charter agreement needs to be better than what it is certainly before I invest any more money in it.”

With tensions on the rise among race teams, it may be high time for the NASCAR executive fold to decide in the right direction.