Rick Ware Racing had both of their teams finish in the bottom three of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series owner standings, and for the No. 15 team, it marked three straight seasons finishing outside of the top 33 (among the 36 charter teams).
Back in 2016, when NASCAR implemented the charter system, they did so with a performance clause stating that they reserve the right to repossess a team's charter if that team finishes outside of the top 33 in the owner standings for three straight seasons.
The whole idea behind the clause is to keep even the sport's backmarker teams competitive and striving to be better from year to year -- and, of course, to eliminate the possibility of "start and park" entrants.
NASCAR opted not to repossess a charter from Rick Ware Racing
The three main reasons for the decision to allow the team to continue to compete with two charters as opposed to one were the fact that they signed Justin Haley to compete full-time in 2024, the fact that they use Roush-Yates Engines, and the fact that they have a technical alliance with RFK Racing. This trio of factors was enough to indicate that they are aiming to improve.
But will NASCAR show the same leniency in 2024?
After back-to-back last place finishes in the owner standings, Live Fast Motorsports got ahead of the game by selling their charter to Spire Motorsports for roughly $40 million following the 2023 season, rather than risking NASCAR repossessing it after the 2024 season.
Live Fast Motorsports are the only team that either Rick Ware Racing entry finished ahead of in the owner standings in both 2022 and 2023. With them no longer in the mix, it's hard to envision a scenario in which Rick Ware Racing are not the "favorites" to finish in 35th and 36th.
And not only do they have the No. 15 team to worry about; the No. 51 team is also at risk of a third straight season outside of the top 33. Would NASCAR really give them a pass in 2025 if both of their teams have finished in the bottom three for at least three straight years?
It is worth noting that it is theoretically the No. 51 team's current charter which is the one that has finished in the bottom three for three straight years already, as that charter was actually the one used for the No. 15 team in 2021 and 2022.
Nobody really knows what NASCAR would do in the event that they opt to repossess a charter, and with the current charter agreement set to end after the 2024 season, that could further complicate matters. Perhaps the real reason they held off on confiscating one of Rick Ware Racing's charters after the 2023 season was the impending new agreement.
Either way, Rick Ware Racing will be looking to use everything to their advantage -- Haley, Roush-Yates Engines, and their RFK Racing alliance -- to avoid giving NASCAR the opportunity to act.