NASCAR clashes with teams over financial model

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 25, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Executives from some of NASCAR’s biggest teams spoke out on Friday about their dispute with the sanctioning body over the sport’s financial model.

Four members of the Race Teams Alliance negotiating team spoke to reporters about the lack of progress towards getting a deal. They included Jeff Gordon, vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports; Curtis Polk, part-owner of 23XI Racing; Dave Alpern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing; and Steve Newmark, president of RFK Racing.

The debate, according to Adam Stern at the Sports Business Journal, hinges on negotiations with the sport’s television rights deal and charter agreement, both of which expire in 2024.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 02: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 Kohler Generators Ford, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 02, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

As for the television deal, the teams claim too much of the money is going to NASCAR. Although the deal states that 65% of the TV money goes to the tracks, 25% goes to the teams, and just 10% goes to NASCAR, the committee claimed that NASCAR ended up getting 93% of the money.

Plus, the teams argue, the current sponsorship model is untenable, with companies just unwilling to pay the massive sums NASCAR teams need to survive if they don’t get a fair share of the TV money.

“We have become full-time fundraisers,” according to Alpern, whose Joe Gibbs Racing team lost driver Kyle Busch this year after sponsor trouble. “Instead of working on our business, we’re raising money just to exist.”

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 02: Noah Gragson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 02, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The teams said they presented NASCAR with a seven-point revenue sharing plan back in June which was mothballed until being outright denied last week.

NBC Sports reports that Jeff Gordon added that, in the current model, defending champions Hendrick Motorsports had not broken even for “awhile,” and added that “where we’re currently at is not sustainable.”

The teams are leveraging the charter agreement, the AP reports, to secure the deal. The system was designed back in 2016 to encourage teams to stay in the sport, but teams say the system isn’t working. The teams say they won’t be renewing that deal until NASCAR is willing to compromise with the television rights.

And it’s the only thing teams are clashing about, as multiple teams and drivers have spoken publicly about safety concerns with the Next Gen car, with Alex Bowman now out for the second race in a row with concussion symptoms.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 16: Alex Bowman, and crew push the #48 Ally Chevrolet, on the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

For its part, the sanctioning body released a statement on Friday that read: “NASCAR acknowledges the challenges currently facing race teams. A key focus moving forward is an extension to the Charter agreement, one that will further increase revenue and help lower team expenses. Collectively, the goal is a strong, healthy sport, and we will accomplish that together.”

But the teams don’t agree with the collective language: “We’re very far apart,” Gordon admitted.

Owen Johnson