|RTA chairman Rob Kaufmann|
GodfatherMotorsports.com has learned that NASCAR and its Sprint Cup Series owners are negotiating a new dynamic that could fundamentally change the way the business side of the sport operates.
Since the sanctioning body was founded in 1949, team owners have operated as independent contractors, with little stake in the sport beyond a pennies-on-the-dollar sale of buildings, equipment and inventory on their way out the door. That could change in the near future, with the implementation of a proposed new arrangement that would limit the number of teams allowed to take part in the Sprint Cup Series, as early as 2016.
Multiple sources tell GodfatherMotorsports.com that Race Team Alliance chairman and Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kaufmann is representing the owners in their negotiation with NASCAR. Under the new system, the sanctioning body will repeatedly award Sprint Cup Series franchises – or “medallions” – to owners whose teams have attempted to qualify for every race in each of the last two seasons. A total of 40 franchises will reportedly be awarded, trimming the Sprint Cup Series starting field from its current 43 cars.
Kaufmann declined to comment when contacted earlier today, but told ESPN.com’s Bob Pockrass that he has had “productive discussions” with NASCAR about building equity for owners.
“Both NASCAR and the teams recognize that the teams building up some kind of long-term equity for participating in the sport -- year in and year out and putting on the show -- is a good thing,” said Kaufmann to ESPN.com. “You look at a lot of other sports around the world, and that's how they work.
"So the question is, can you come up with some model within the framework of NASCAR that makes sense for everybody? It's a very sensible concept. The hard part is the details. So we're having productive discussions to see if we can figure out how to do it. It's an ongoing project."
NASCAR has also declined to comment, citing the speculative and premature nature of the discussions.