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Report: NASCAR Considering Limiting Teams to Only 3 Cars

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic recently published a major article on all of the hottest rumors regarding Silly Season, the most intriguing of which had to do with the upcoming charter agreement. According to Bianchi, the proposed terms of NASCAR’s new charter agreement limit teams to only three cars. However, the current four-car teams, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, would be “Grandfathered in,” allowing them to keep four-car operations.

  • Limiting race teams to only three cars has some merit. It allows NASCAR to free up more charters for other prospective owners and helps even the playing field. However, the future of current four-car teams looks unclear at the moment.
  • This could have a major impact on Silly Season. If NASCAR limits race teams to four cars, other teams looking at expansion, like Trackhouse, may have to change course.
  • Fans are quite surprised by this move. They are interested to see how this could impact NASCAR if it happens.

Why Would NASCAR Limit Teams to Only 3 Cars?

Limiting a team’s number of cars is not a new concept. NASCAR first did this back in 2005, when what was then known as Roush Racing fielded 5 cars, all 5 of which made the 10-driver Chase for the Nextel Cup (a precursor to the modern Playoff format). NASCAR then limited each race team to 4 cars, and then-NASCAR CEO Brian France explained the move in an article on

We don’t like the fact that the independent teams, or in particular a new owner looking at coming in the door, have a daunting task to compete, and the concept of having to have five teams, three teams. That means the opportunities aren’t there for young drivers. It means opportunities aren’t there to create the next Rick Hendrick and have the success.

Brian France

In the same article, Richard Childress, a former independent owner-driver, praised the move. He claimed, “Personally, I could never have gotten into the sport — the way it is today — like I did when I got in as a driver-car owner many years ago.”

Multi-car teams have a big advantage over smaller teams due to the amount of resources smaller teams can use including sponsorship, data, and overall information. No single-car team has won a Cup Series Championship since Richard Childress Racing with Dale Earnhardt in 1994.

On the other hand, since 2003, 19 of 22 Cup Series Champions have come from teams with 3 or more cars. One could argue three cars might not even be enough purely from a competition standpoint.

It’s unclear if that’s the same logic NASCAR would use for this move, but charters add another wrinkle. Nowadays, the barrier of entry into the NASCAR Cup Series is higher than ever due to how important owning a charter is. There’s a reason why only four races in the Next-Gen era have had enough “Open entries” to fill out a full field.

However, limiting teams to only 3 cars per team would only open up at least 2 extra charters in addition to the ones open now. Those charters wouldn’t even be open right away.

How Would “Grandfathering in” Hendrick and JGR Work?

Again, we’ll go back to 2005, when NASCAR originally limited a team’s number of cars. Roush Racing was the only team with more than four entries at that time, but each of their drivers and contracts went through 2009. NASCAR elected to let Roush keep their 5 cars until the contracts ran out, and Roush let go of Jamie McMurray to reduce from 5 to 4 cars in 2010.

It’s reasonable that NASCAR would do something similar to Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. At the earliest, all Hendrick drivers are signed through 2025, so Hendrick would have to break or buy out the contract to become a 3 car operation.

What Does It Mean for Silly Season?

This means that race teams could only have the option to expand to three cars instead of four. Trackhouse Racing is likely the biggest team this impacts. Rather than being able to expand to four cars and bring SVG and Zane Smith in-house, Trackhouse may be forced to make a decision about who to bring into the Cup Series. Bianchi reported that Suarez is likely to come back next year.

Only allowing teams to expand to 3 cars means that Trackhouse, Front Row Motorsports, and 23XI Racing could only buy one of SHR’s 4 charters. This means another team could join the charter conversation, and Bianchi specifically mentioned Legacy Motor Club and Richard Childress Racing as those teams.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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