NASCAR Cup Series team owners didn’t appear for their regularly scheduled meeting with NASCAR officials on Wednesday.
According to multiple reports, the boycott is because teams are unhappy with the state of discussions surrounding the way television revenue will be divvied up in future seasons. NASCAR’s current television contract is up after the 2024 season and negotiations on the next contract are set to begin in earnest later this year.
In a statement, NASCAR said that it is “committed to open and productive dialogue on a regular basis with all industry stakeholders. We remain committed to continuing discussions in the spirit of collaboration and with the shared goal of growing our sport for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Teams currently receive 25% of the money from NASCAR’s television contract with Fox and NBC. As teams have faced a racing climate of increasing expenses, decreasing TV audiences and dwindling sponsorship dollars, they want a bigger share of television money to ensure their sustainability.
NASCAR’s tracks are the major beneficiaries of the television deal. The tracks receive 65% of the money while NASCAR itself gets 10%. NASCAR also owns many of the tracks that are on its schedule.
Fox and NBC are paying an average of roughly $800 million a season to broadcast races from NASCAR’s top three series and NASCAR is eyeing an increase starting in 2025. That hope for more TV money from the networks comes as TV ratings have declined from 2022 in 2023. Viewership has been down significantly for the majority of the first seven Cup Series races this season and there doesn’t appear to be a clear reason why unless Chase Elliott fans are refusing to watch while their favorite driver is on the sidelines because of a fractured tibia.
According to the Associated Press, team owners would like NASCAR owners Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy to be more involved in the revenue negotiations. The France family founded NASCAR and Jim has taken over as the leader of NASCAR following his nephew Brian’s departure while Brian’s sister Lesa has also had a significant role in NASCAR throughout her career.
The AP reported Wednesday afternoon that NASCAR teams believed the meeting would have solely revolved around the charter system, NASCAR's version of franchising. Thirty-six teams have charters that guarantee them entry into every race and a greater share of the money allocated to teams from the season-ending points fund. The charters themselves serve as a hedge towards the loss of value of a race team. If a team wants to exit NASCAR or must stop racing, it can sell its charter for millions.
The charters are both renewable — the current ones expire at the end of the 2024 season — and revocable by NASCAR if a team fails to perform over a predetermined length of time. The race teams want the charters to become permanent, and NASCAR apparently is unwilling to even discuss the issue.
“It’s the foundation that everything else is built upon. If they gave you the moon, but they’re able to take it away from you periodically, what good is having the moon?” 23XI Racing's Curtis Polk told AP.
The teams’ demands for a greater share of revenue from the television contract also come in the second year of NASCAR’s new Cup Series car. NASCAR implemented the car ahead of the 2022 season as a way to help teams reduce long-term costs, though many teams spent a significant sum up front to switch their fleets over from the previous car version. The current Cup Series car is largely built with parts from single-source providers with the stated goal of saving teams money and increasing parity throughout NASCAR’s top level.