Denny Hamlin met with the media on Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway.
How much has the charter market changed this week?
“It’s tough to say. I don’t think it really changed a whole lot, to be honest with you. I think it’s in the realm of what everyone thought that would happen. I heard rumblings of which team was going to purchase what. The buyers and the sellers are all still in play. I don’t think yesterday changed a whole lot.”
Did it set the price point?
“Maybe. It’s tough to say. If it is, we made a hell of an investment last year. It’s tough to say if that is case or not. You still have the certain group of guys that come in to the sport. We want to be a part of expanding, whether or not, depends on if we have a guaranteed spot in the field.”
You wouldn’t run as an open car?
“We would entertain it. A lot depends on what we see the charter future going. The model still requires you to put significant sponsor dollars on the car if you want to compete. If you just want to ride around, then that’s a whole different business model. If you want to compete, it still requires you to get eight-figure plus, plus, plus sponsor money in order to compete with the guys that have businesses that can put their thumb on you at any time.”
Is that a different mindset than you had in Charlotte?
“I mean, I think that we are weighing all of the options and obviously the charter agreement goes to ’24, so we have to make sure we are making a sound investment for the next three years, because we cannot predict what happens beyond that, whether it gets renewed or the model changes or if they shift money around from the middle to the bottom or the top, who knows. So, we have to weigh all of those options. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in this sport making a decent amount of money. I don’t want to piss it all away right away.”
Do you have a timeline?
“In our head. I wouldn’t say what that is, though. Again, I think if I put all of the pieces together before the charter – and they all come together nicely, than I don’t think that I absolutely, positively have to have one. I think we are in a little bit of a bubble, so they are many people with their hand on the panic button, but theirs is much closer than mine is to it.”
Do you think NASCAR would take the 51 charter away?
“It depends whether you enforce the rule or not. The rule is put in there.”
Do you expect them to enforce the rule?
“They enforce all of the other rules. I wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t that one. As I see it, if you are in the bottom three for consecutive years and you haven’t worked yourself out of it, if there are new teams that want to come into the sport, maybe that gets put up for auction.”
Is that what happens?
So, then it becomes a bidding war?
Creative bidding war or straight cash?
“I don’t know about all of that. I don’t know. I haven’t had those conversations to figure out how it works, but I certainly know there is a rule in place. You would think they would enforce it, especially with the demand to come into the sport. It would seem like they would want that, especially if the competitive teams that want to come into the sport, teams that are going to bring something into the sport, possibly new sponsors into the sport, it would seem like they would want that. I wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t enforce that.”
But you don’t want it to get it to that point, to have your fate put in someone else’s hands?
“Exactly, you are just in a bidding war at that point, you won’t know where it all stacks up. By the way, who gets all of that money. That’s my next question.”
Isn’t already a bidding war?
“Maybe. I don’t know that multiple teams have put in bids on one charter yet. I don’t know – maybe they have, I’m not sure. But we haven’t.”
Did you talk to Spire?
“I had initial conversations with Spire, but it didn’t really go too far, but they voiced interest in selling, so somebody with interest was going to come in there and offer them something.”
— Toyota Racing —