On Thursday, NASCAR announced that regardless of where Rick Ware Racing finishes in the Owner’s Standings, they will not repossess the charter of the 51 car for 2024. Bob Pockrass explained the reasoning that NASCAR gave, but, did NASCAR make the right decision? Did Rick Ware Racing deserve to keep their second charter?
Why Would NASCAR Repossess a Charter
Before answering this question, it is important to note what NASCAR is trying to do with the threat to repossess a charter. Bob Pockrass noted that the rule was put in place to prevent the “Start and park”, which was a popular trend for smaller teams throughout the early 2010s. To help cut costs, teams would enter the race, run a few laps, and claim there was a mechanical failure that caused the car to be unable to finish the race.
As a result, teams could save money by not having to buy extra tires to finish the race, not hire a pit crew, or simply not risk their car crashing during the few laps it ran. NASCAR put this rule in place to make sure that every team with a charter was making an honest attempt to compete. NASCAR has never repossessed a charter before, but teams like StarCom have sold charters after finishing in the bottom three two years in a row.
Rick Ware Racing’s Improvement
Rick Ware Racing has quietly made some big moves in recent years to improve their performance as a race team. RWR was once the butt of every joke because of being a backmarker team with seemingly no chance of winning every single week. However, things are changing at the team even if they still sit towards the bottom of the owners’ standings.
They have downsized from three cars to two cars, and they have had a few interesting drivers drive their cars including Jenson Button, Ryan Newman, and Andy Lally. They have also signed Justin Haley long-term, who is an interesting prospect who nearly won the Chicago Street Race. There’s also the alliance with RFK Racing as well.
They have made honest efforts to improve their race team, and NASCAR saw fit that they deserved a second chance. However, will this second chance be worth it?
How Long of a Leash Does NASCAR Give?
Regardless of all of the improvements RWR has made this year, they still sit 34th and 35th in owner’s points. How long of a leash is NASCAR realistically going to give them? Even though they have shown efforts to get better, there’s no guarantee they actually will be on track.
The issue may not be whether or not RWR deserved a second chance, because they’ve made honest efforts to improve. However, what if those efforts do not yield results on the race track? If RWR still struggles to get out of the bottom three, maybe NASCAR will make a decision.
Again, they have never revoked a charter before, so there is no precedent. However, if someone wants to join the sport via a charter, then is it worth it to keep a charter with a team that continues to sit in the bottom three of the owner’s points?
Then again, RWR deserves the chance to prove itself, and NASCAR is going to give it to them. They will be a team to watch in 2024, but, if they continue to flounder, who knows what could happen?