While it can’t yet be considered a near threat, a lack of improvement could put one NASCAR Cup Series team at risk of no longer running.
Quite a few of the 36 NASCAR Cup Series charters changed hands ahead of the 2022 season. Rick Ware Racing find themselves as one of the teams which have fewer charters this year than they did last year. After running four chartered entries last year, they now run just two.
The charter which had been used to run their #51 Petty Ware Racing entry, a charter which was officially owned by Richard Petty Motorsports, went back to Richard Petty’s organization when it was acquired by GMS Racing.
GMS Racing formed a partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports to form Petty GMS Motorsports, and that charter is now used to run the #42 Chevrolet, which is driven by Ty Dillon.
Meanwhile, the charter which had been used to run Rick Ware Racing’s #53 car was purchased by Spire Motorsports and is now used to run their #7 Chevrolet, which is driven by Corey LaJoie.
Spire Motorsports sold two of their three charters from last year to Kaulig Racing, so they acquired this one to continue operating as a two-car team.
But despite downsizing from four cars to two, Rick Ware Racing could eventually be at risk of being forced to downsize further due to the minimum performance standard that NASCAR holds for all charter teams.
If a charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings (among the 36 charter teams) for three straight years, NASCAR reserves the right to repossess that team’s charter.
Is it a guarantee that this would happen? No. But nobody wants to be in a spot where the door is open to the possibility.
Two charter teams finished in the bottom three in both 2020 and 2021, the #53 Rick Ware Racing team and the #00 Spire Motorsports team. But the charters used to run those teams were both sold ahead of the 2022 season. As mentioned, the one used to run the #53 team went to Spire Motorsports, and the one used to run the #00 team was sold to 23XI Racing for their #45 Toyota.
It is highly unlikely that either one of those two teams will finish outside of the top 33 in the owner standings this year.
However, the other charter that finished in the bottom three of the owner standings last year was the charter used to run the #15 Rick Ware Racing team.
That team could very well finish outside of the top 33 again this year, which would put it at risk next season.
Right now, the #15 team sits right on the cut line in 33rd place, just four points ahead of the #77 Spire Motorsports team in 34th.
Rick Ware Racing’s #51 team, which is being run using the charter that had been used to run their #52 team last year, sits a further 38 points back in 36th (last) place after a recent 20-point penalty. The #78 Live Fast Motorsports team sits two points ahead in 35th.
Can the #15 team stay in the top 33 so that three new teams will finish from 34th to 36th place in the owner standings, or will the team enter the 2023 season at risk of going a third straight year in the bottom three?