NASCAR: One Cup Series team could have been in big trouble

One team was at risk of NASCAR repossessing a charter as a result of their finishes in the Cup Series owner standings.

J.J. Yeley, Rick Ware Racing, NASCAR
J.J. Yeley, Rick Ware Racing, NASCAR / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The three teams that finished at the bottom of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series owner standings, among the 36 charter teams, were the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing team, the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing team, and the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports team.

Those three teams also finished at the bottom of the 2022 owner standings. This is significant because of the fact that NASCAR reserves the right to repossess a team's charter if that team finishes in the bottom three in the owner standings for three consecutive seasons.

It is worth mentioning that there is no guarantee that NASCAR will repossess a team's charter following three consecutive seasons of bottom three finishes, but no team wants to be in a position where that becomes a possibility.

Unfortunately, this was the third straight season at the bottom for the No. 15 team, though it is theoretically the No. 51 team's current charter that has finished in the bottom three for three straight years since that charter was actually the one used for the No. 15 team in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

But NASCAR will not be repossessing any Rick Ware Racing charters ahead of the 2024 season

Due to Rick Ware Racing's technical alliance with RFK Racing, their use of Roush-Yates Engines, and their signing of Justin Haley as a full-time driver for the 2024 season, NASCAR viewed the team as having demonstrated a clear commitment to becoming more competitive moving forward.

The whole idea of NASCAR having the right to repossess a team's charter is to prevent teams from just riding around -- and, of course, "start and park" entries. In fact, that's basically the whole purpose of the charter system.

So the decision to allow Rick Ware Racing to continue as a two-car team makes sense.

But what happens in 2024 if the No. 15 team finishes in the bottom three for a fourth straight year -- or if the No. 51 team finishes in the bottom three for a third?

As for Live Fast Motorsports, they finished in 36th (last) place in the owner standings in both 2022 and 2023 by a wide margin, and there was very little reason for optimism heading into the 2024 campaign.

As a result, they got ahead of the game, and instead of leaving anything to chance, they sold their charter for a record amount, said to be roughly $40 million, to Spire Motorsports.

Notably, the No. 77 Spire Motorsports team finished in 33rd place in the owner standings in both 2022 and 2023, making it the team right on the bubble.

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How will Spire Motorsports perform as a three-car operation for the first time in 2024 -- especially now that the backmarker Live Fast Motorsports team will no longer take up one of those bottom three spots?

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