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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France announced a milestone long-term agreement Tuesday, unveiling a Charter system that is expected to substantially increase team value and sustainability for owners competing in NASCAR's premier series.
"Today represents a landmark change to the business model of team ownership in NASCAR," France said. "The Charter agreements provide nine years of stability for NASCAR and the teams to focus on the growth initiatives together with our track partners, auto manufacturers, drivers and sponsors."
Thirty-six teams have been granted Charters and are guaranteed entry into each of the 36 points events. Standards for obtaining a Charter were based on participation during the past three seasons (from 2013 through July of '15).
Four additional positions in the field each week will be determined through normal qualifying procedures as outlined in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.
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As a result of the changes, fields for Sprint Cup races will now consist of 40 cars.
The Charter system, a form of which owners have sought in an effort to bolster value of their organizations and which was initiated by NASCAR more than a year ago, will provide stability by guaranteeing sponsors and other potential partners continued participation for an extended period of time.
NASCAR officials said the system would not have come into being without positive support and input from the various industry stakeholders with an end goal of providing the best racing and product possible.
Charters are transferable, which France said "will aid in the development of long-term enterprise value for Charter members."
Those organizations that have been awarded Charters are: Richard Petty Motorsports (2), Richard Childress Racing (3), Team Penske (2), Hendrick Motorsports (4), Roush Fenway Racing (3), Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (2), Joe Gibbs Racing (3), Michael Waltrip Racing (2), Stewart-Haas Racing (3), Furniture Row Racing (1), Front Row Motorsports (2), JTG Daugherty Racing (1), Tommy Baldwin Racing (1), Germain Racing (1), Go FAS Racing (1), BK Racing (2), Premium Motorsports (1), Circle Sport Racing (1) and HScott Motorsports (1).
Three teams that competed full time in 2015 do not currently have Charters -- the No. 19 of Joe Gibbs Racing with driver Carl Edwards, the No. 41 of Stewart-Haas Racing with Kurt Busch and the No. 46 of HScott Motorsports with Michael Annett.
The only way to obtain a Charter would be to purchase one of the existing 36 Charters. Michael Waltrip Racing closed its doors at the end of the 2015 season.
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France said the team owner agreements "will offer a more appealing environment for both current and prospective team owners at the NASCAR premier series level.
"I've always stressed that if we can do things to improve the business of our stakeholders, we will pursue it," he said. "I'm very proud of what we've accomplished today with this agreement."
The Charter system is the latest long-term effort put into place by NASCAR. Last season it was announced that individual track sanctioning agreements, which previously had been handled on a year-to-year basis, had been extended to five-year arrangements beginning in 2016. And new multi-year broadcast agreements with FOX and NBC began last season as well.
In addition to the Charters, the agreement also includes the establishment of the Team Owner Council, a non-voting entity, which will have input into competitive and marketing matters going forward.