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When Will Honda Join NASCAR?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

RACER.com reporter Marshall Pruett added fuel to the ‘Honda joining NASCAR’ fire this week. On his podcast, “This Week in IndyCar”, Pruett opened up about what he had heard regarding Honda’s future in motorsports, punctuated by saying, “If you’re a Honda fan and you like NASCAR you’re probably going to be really happy here in the future”.

This is not the first time that Honda and NASCAR have been reported to be considering a partnership, so, when could Honda join NASCAR?

  • Honda to NASCAR rumors started in late December when Chuck Schifsky, America Honda’s Motorsports Manager, talked to Pruett in a RACER.com article. Schifsky discussed how Honda was considering leaving IndyCar after the 2026 season, and he name-dropped NASCAR as a possibility.
  • Throughout February, Honda to NASCAR rumors have continued to head up. This included an Adam Stern report where Steve O’Donnell said that negotiations with a fourth manufacturer were “Heating up”. Steve Phelps later confirmed on a Fox Sports interview during Speedweeks that NASCAR was “in talks” with a fourth OEM.
  • Fans have been clamoring for a fourth manufacturer for a long time, and many fans were ecstatic to see this news. However, many fans are unsure exactly how long it will be until Honda joins NASCAR.

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When Can NASCAR Allow Honda to Join?

There is a process that Honda needs to go through to join NASCAR. While the exact process is not public knowledge, we do have some insight from Brian Murphy, who works with RFK Racing. Murphy said that manufacturers must submit car bodies for approval by September 1st, 2 years before the vehicle would be introduced. In short, if Honda wants to join in 2026, they would need to submit their body panels by September 1st, 2024.

Theoretically speaking, Honda would join NASCAR as early as 2026. However, we do not know the exact nature of the talks between Honda and NASCAR. Honda may have submitted body panels to NASCAR already.

If they want to join NASCAR in 2025, then they would have to submit their body by September 1st, 2023. Reports did not surface about NASCAR and Honda potentially teaming up until December of 2023. Of course, talks could have transpired outside of the media spotlight, but, it’s still worth noting. However, NASCAR’s timeline is far from the only issue.

When Would it Be Feasible for Honda to Join NASCAR?

Honda is currently committed to IndyCar through 2026. Should Honda want to join NASCAR, would they want to invest in IndyCar at the same time? Schifsky specifically told Marshall Pruett that it is not out of the question for Honda to leave IndyCar. This came before Schifsky name-dropped NASCAR.

We’re looking for a wholesale change to the engine regulations so that we can eliminate fives and tens of millions of dollars of annual technical costs. Because, if we don’t, then it’s too much money, and we will go do something else.

Chuck Schifskey

If Honda wants to make a smooth transition from NASCAR to IndyCar with little to no overlap, they may hold off on joining NASCAR until 2027. This would give them plenty of time to get ready to join NASCAR while fulfilling the final commitment to IndyCar.

A manufacturer joining NASCAR is a process. Toyota first dipped its toe into NASCAR through the Goody’s Dash Series in the early 2000s. They jumped up to the Truck Series in 2006, 3 years after NASCAR stopped sanctioning the Dash Series. They joined the Xfinity and Cup Series in 2007, and they have been here ever since.

It took Toyota nearly a decade to fully join NASCAR at the sport’s highest level. Even when they joined the Truck Series, they did not jump into the Cup Series right away. When they joined the Cup Series, they did not win a race until their second season.

There’s also the issue of race teams, and who would join Honda. Rick Ware Racing is an obvious choice, given their relationship with Honda in IndyCar. Outside of RWR, the non-Key Partner teams, Kaulig Racing, Spire Motorsports, JTG Daugherty, and the Wood Brothers are all candidates. However, none of those race teams have ever won a Championship, and they combined for only 2 wins over 36 races in 2023.

Honda may take more time to develop relationships with race teams to be competitive right from the jump.

Honda joining NASCAR is quite a complicated process, but it is very exciting. How close are we to seeing it?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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