Charters still needed by Penske, Wood Bros.; so what’s available?

By John Haverlin
November 2, 2017

With Ryan Blaney departing Wood Brothers Racing to join Team Penske and Paul Menard taking over, both organizations still need a charter to be among the 36 cars guaranteed in every 2018 NASCAR Cup Series points race.

Before this season, GoFas Racing leased its charter to the Wood Brothers’ team, and Richard Petty Motorsports leased its No. 44 charter to GoFas. Since leases can only last one year in NASCAR’s charter agreement, the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford is currently unchartered, or open, and Petty has one on the market, assuming it doesn’t run a second full-time entry in 2018.

Penske currently has two charters, which are used for the No. 2 and No. 22 Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, respectively. Blaney will drive the No. 12 next season, and it’s very unlikely that car will be an open entry. Since he’s signed to a multi-year deal with Penske, the organization will presumably purchase a charter instead of leasing one.

Currently, there are five chartered cars with an unclear future. One of them belongs to Richard Childress Racing, which hasn’t announced plans for the No. 27 team. It’s rumored Brennan Poole will leave Chip Ganassi Racing’s XFINITY Series program and bring DC Solar along to sponsor him at RCR next year. However, there’s been no movement with this gossip. If no one competes in the No. 27 Chevrolet, RCR will be forced to either lease or sell the charter.

Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 charter, which it leased to JTG-Daugherty Racing for Chris Buescher’s No. 37 this year, is available.

Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 charter was sold to JTG, and the team becomes a single-car organization again with Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Toyota.

With Petty planning to only field Darrell Wallace Jr. in the No. 43, the team must sell its other charter. It can’t be leased again until 2022, when the five-year period is up.

Front Row Motorsports is currently in a legal dispute, per ESPN, regarding its charter that was leased to TriStar Motorsports this year. The charter originally belonged to BK Racing, but it was sold to Front Row before the season started.

Union Bank & Trust in Virginia is suing Front Row for ownership, saying the charter is collateral for a $9.1 million loan that BK Racing took at some point in the last 12 months, ESPN reported. Where this charter could end up is anyone’s guess.

BK Racing has a dubious future. The team has been in financial discord throughout the season with drivers (notably Gray Gaulding, see Frontstretch’s story) and motor suppliers (driver Brett Moffitt said “the bills weren’t paid” when Race Engine Plus engine tuners took the codes needed to start them at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October). The Internal Revenue Service also filed a $667,630 lien for unpaid federal taxes against team owner Ron Devine, according to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. If the team were to shut down before the upcoming season began, the charter from the No. 23 car will be for sale.

Among these five charters, one of them probably belongs to Rick Ware Racing. The team told Frontstretch that Ray Black Jr. would run full-time next year in the No. 51 and that it has acquired a charter, although Ware didn’t specify its origin. Unless Ware got it from another chartered team and that team got a new one, one of the five discussed in this story will be revealed as the No. 51 car's charter eventually.

Assuming three of the five go toward Blaney, Menard and Black’s cars, there are still two that need to be leased out or sold. TriStar hasn’t announced its plans for 2018, so it’s possible the team could get one. If BK Racing continues to compete, the team could purchase another charter and rerun two full-time cars as it did in 2016. Front Row plans to field only two full-time teams next season, so the charter in dispute will probably not remain with them.

Possibly, a new organization could enter the Cup Series, too. There are still two months for teams to finalize their plans. We’ll just have to sit back and watch as the business side of the sport takes its course.

NBC Sports

Jonny Olkowski/The Racing Experts Austin McFadden/The Racing Experts Matt Courson/The Racing Experts