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NASCAR, teams moving closer to charter system for 2016

Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 21: Team owner Rob Kauffman speaks to the media during a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS - The chairman of the Race Team Alliance and a senior NASCAR official both say they are “cautiously optimistic” a charter system that will guarantee teams starting spots for all races will be in place before the season.

Rob Kauffman, chairman of the RTA, and Brent Dewar, NASCAR’s chief operating officer, made the comments Wednesday at the Sports Business Journal’s Motorsports Marketing Forum at The Mirage.

The charter system, intended for full-time teams, will provide those organizations greater equity and stability. By guaranteeing teams with charters a spot in the 43-car field, those organizations can assure sponsors they won’t miss a race. It also gives greater value to those teams should an owner seek to sell their stake.

Kauffman notes another benefit of a charter system is how revenue would be distributed. This would allow teams to better anticipate what they’ll make on race earnings going into a season instead of guessing how they’ll run and what they’ll earn.

Kauffman noted that about 70 percent of a team’s income comes from sponsorship. If that goes away, teams are left with little equity other than their building and equipment.

One of the things Kauffman said during his 30-minute forum was that a better structure on rule changes was needed because rule changes cost teams in developing the maximizing the potential of each change.

“It helps put a governing structure in place about how the teams work together, how rule changes happen, how you can plan for things to be obsolete, upgraded, influence changes in a sensible way.

“The more you’re changing bits and pieces, engine architecture or aerodynamic stuff, that’s what really drives up the costs.

Afterward, Kauffman explained how much the rule changes cost teams, noting NASCAR’s experiment with a high-drag package that was used only at Indianapolis and Michigan.

“The Indy science experiment … probably was a deep seven-figure cost experiment,’’ Kauffman said. “Was it a good idea or a bad idea? That’s debatable. But I think process-wise, that was a good process. We don’t mind investing or trying something, but the process needs to be more predictable and planned to get a better result.’’

NASCAR announced that it will use a low-downforce package that drew rave reviews after races at Kentucky and Darlington this past season.

Dewar said NASCAR is working closer with teams on future changes.

“What it is making sure we’re working … with both parties up front,’’ Dewar said. “As part of the team owner’s council, we would start with the original ideas together and work on developmental.’’

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