NASCAR: The underrated rule that led to an unexpected change

A NASCAR Cup Series performance standard ultimately played a role in a charter sale following the 2021 season, one that didn’t go as planned.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season may be over, but the offseason begun with several details about next year’s lineup yet to be confirmed, specifically as it relates to the charter market.

Slowly but surely, however, things are coming together.

Before the season ended, it had been reported that StarCom Racing would be shutting down after the 2021 season and that they would be selling the charter that they had used to run the #00 Chevrolet.

But the initial belief was that they would be selling this charter to Spire Motorsports.

Spire Motorsports had sold two of their three charters, including the one that they had leased out to Trackhouse Racing Team for 2021, to Kaulig Racing. So it made sense for the two-car outfit to pursue what would be a second charter.

However, it has since been reported that this won’t be the case, and the buyer of the StarCom Racing charter will actually be 23XI Racing.

23XI Racing had long been seeking a second charter, specifically after confirming that Kurt Busch is set to pilot a second entry for the team, the #45 Toyota, in 2022. They were initially in talks with Front Row Motorsports, but that deal ultimately fell through.

One of the key reasons why StarCom Racing had been looking to sell this charter sooner rather than later was the fact that the #00 team had finished in the bottom three in the owner standings (among the 36 chartered teams) for two consecutive seasons. The team finished in 34th place in 2020 and 36th in 2021.

Charter teams are held to a minimum performance standard in the Cup Series, and this standard makes clear that NASCAR reserves the right to repossess a charter from any team that finishes among the bottom three in the owner standings for three consecutive seasons.

So NASCAR reportedly warned StarCom Racing that they may repossess their charter after the 2022 season if they finish in 34th place or worse once again, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the odds of the team finishing there would be pretty darn high.

As a result, 23XI Racing are set to have two charters after all.

Interestingly, there is one other chartered team which finished in the bottom three in the owner standings in both the 2020 season and the 2021 season, and that is the #53 team at Rick Ware Racing.

The #53 team finished in 35th place in 2020 and 34th in 2021, putting it at risk of a potential charter repossession with another bottom three finish in 2022.

However, it has also effectively been confirmed that Rick Ware Racing will be downsizing in 2022, moving from a four-car operation to a two-car operation. It is believed that Spire Motorsports will secure one of their charters, with GMS Racing rumored to obtain another.

The 2022 season is not scheduled to begin until Sunday, February 20 with the 64th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, so official confirmation as it pertains to these charters may or may not be imminent.