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Are NASCAR and Teams Closer to a Charter Deal? Denny Hamlin says “I Don’t Think So”

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What’s Happening?

The newest season of Denny Hamlin’s podcast “Actions Detrimental” began this week, and Hamlin had some interesting insight into the charter deal. He discussed how factors like the media rights deal have affected the process, how slow the process has been, and whether or not he thinks a deal will get done. However, Hamlin did say that he does not believe a deal is any closer than it was a year ago.

  • In addition to being a driver, Hamlin is also a team owner of 23XI Racing. While he is not directly involved in the negotiations with NASCAR, his co-worker relationships with other team owners mean he is as close to the fire as anyone in the garage.
  • NASCAR’s charter deal with the race teams runs out after the 2024 season. Without a charter deal, it opens up the possibility of team owners and drivers splitting from NASCAR similar to the IndyCar CART/IRL split in the 1990s.
  • Fans are hoping that a deal gets done. They know that both sides not agreeing could be catastrophic for the sport.

Are They Any Closer to a Deal?

Certainly, I can’t speak for the TNC (Team Negotiating Committee). They’re the ones who have been in the in-depth negotiations and sitting in rooms with NASCAR for hours on end, but, here we are in the 11th hour again. We tried to start these conversations 2 years ago, and it’s just been delay delay delay and now here we are, we’re at the end of the rope…There’s certainly some work to be done, right? Do I believe we are closer to a deal now than we were 12 months ago? I don’t think so.

Denny Hamlin

By Hamlin’s own admission, he is not actively in the meetings with NASCAR because he is not involved with the Team Negotiation Committee (TNC). According to the Associated Press, as of 2023, that committee consisted of Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports), Dave Alpern (Joe Gibbs Racing), Steve Newmark (RFK Racing), and Curtis Polk (23XI Racing). While Hamlin is not directly involved with the negotiations, he is as close as anyone.

From his perspective, no progress has been made since the preseason of 2023. That’s certainly concerning given that NASCAR’s media rights deal was announced in November of 2023. It’s been over 2 months since that deal was announced, yet, according to Hamlin, there has been no progress.

Hamlin also emphasizes that time is running short. The charter deal runs out at the end of 2024, and we are already one month into 2024. That 12-month window, technically 13 months if you go back to the TV deal being signed, has quickly gone down to 11 months. NASCAR and the teams did agree to extend their negotiating window at the end of December according to Sports Business Journal, so, this has already taken longer than NASCAR and the teams expected.

The Impact of the Media Rights Deal

NASCAR just signed this new TV deal which, you know, it sounds great. Until we know everything about it, we don’t really know how it all flows and everything…We tried to have conversations early, but [NASCAR] didn’t know what the media landscape was going to be. Now that they’ve figured that out, I think they’re in a much better position to transfer that information into what would be a fair, equitable deal for both sides.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin offers some optimism here. He weaves the TV deal in throughout his overall discussion about the charter situation, and he confirms that the TV deal did keep charter negotiations from progressing as far as the teams wanted to.

This makes sense. At the end of the day, TV money plays a large role in footing the bill for the entire industry. If NASCAR does not know how much money they will be getting from the TV deal, then it’s tough to come up with an accurate deal.

However, the TV deal has been in place for over two months now, and meaningful progress still has not been made. Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal reported that the split of the media rights revenue was the major sticking point in negotiations. He also told The Money Lap that a source close to “several teams” told him that a deal before Daytona was not a guarantee despite the media rights deal being signed. There is also the issue of whether or not the media rights deal actually made that much more money for NASCAR as we discuss below.

Will a Deal Get Done

I think, it usually sorts itslef out in the end, right? It has historically, so, I would see no reason why it wouldn’t now. It’s just been a very very slow moving turtle to this point, and, certainly we did not want to wait until this late right?

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is relying on historical precedent to allow this deal to get done. Usually, despite all of the fear, sticking points, and roadblocks, cooler heads prevail. NASCAR has had some rough moments with team members before, 1969 Talladega is the prime example, but by and large, both sides have come to fair agreements throughout history.

If both sides do not come to an agreement, the results could be disastrous. When CART and IRL split in the mid-1990s, it hurt IndyCar for many years afterward. Even since the two reunified in 2008, IndyCar has never fully recovered from the hurt caused by “The Split”.

The team owners need NASCAR and NASCAR needs the team owners. Without NASCAR, the team owners do not have a recognizable brand to sanction the races and a Championship. Without the team owners, NASCAR doesn’t have the star drivers and race teams that people pay to see.

Still, splits have happened before. If NASCAR and the team owners do not come to a deal, that will not end well. However, Hamlin has offered some optimism, even if there has been no progress.

Hamlin appears to be cautiously optimistic about negotiations, but, he is not thrilled with the speed of negotiations. Will NASCAR and the teams come to a charter agreement?

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