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Dale Jr. and Kelley ‘Still at the Table’ for a Charter; Toyed with Running an Open Entry

Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR Cup Series team 2025 Charter JR Motorsports

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller are still holding out hope on securing a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series garage as team owners and operators, they’ve been openly looking at a pathway to Cup Series team ownership for years, but Earnhardt is hesitant to invest in the Charters at their current evaluations ($25-30 million reportedly). Not because they aren’t worth it in the long term, but because for him, they’re too expensive for him to pull the trigger personally.

On this week’s episode of the Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt says he knows while the price tag looks large today, a NASCAR Cup Series Team Charter could, and realistically should be worth drastically more a few years from now.

“I don’t doubt that if you took $15 or 20 million and put it into one of these Charters — I mean, if they’re selling for $25-30 million — I believe that Charters will be worth $100-150 million possibly, maybe way more,” Earnhardt predicted. “You look at NFL franchises and how they sold for hundreds of millions of dollars 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and now they’re selling for billions of dollars, and they continue to go up.”

Earnhardt referenced the sale of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers organization, which was purchased for a record $2.3 billion by David Tepper in 2018. Earnhardt says when the new Team Charter Agreement is officially announced by NASCAR and the RTA that Charters will continue to climb in value as the business model concerns from the last agreement are addressed in the new one.

“I think that happens to the NASCAR Charter on a much, much smaller scale,” Earnhardt explained. “But especially when this new Charter agreement gets announced, and it’s now public knowledge that the business model looks more favorable, the Charter value goes up. And so, right now, the business model looks terrible. The teams will tell you it’s terrible, and that’s why they want a new agreement. And so, when that all gets resolved, the value will then pop a little bit. And I think it just continues to grow annually, as it naturally has, right? Charters were selling for $2 million, $6 million, $12 million, $20 million, $30-40 million.”

So, if he feels like it’s a good investment, why isn’t Earnhardt going all-in and putting his money on the line for a Charter? Because if he buys a Charter for a large sum of money today, and it increases in value a few years down the line, he doesn’t want to flip it. He doesn’t feel it would be right. He wants to be a NASCAR Cup Series team owner for life if he makes that commitment.

“I’m not buying a Charter and putting millions of dollars away into something that I can’t then recoup or sell for a profit. I feel like that would be wrong of me, because of our legacy and my last name, to buy into a Charter and then sell it a couple of years later and try to reap a profit,” Earnhardt stated. “If you’re going to get into this, you’ve got to get in with commitment. Not for the money, not for the potential — we’ve always raced to go win a race. To go compete. Not thinking about it as a way to profit.”

While Earnhardt doesn’t see he and his sister acquiring the full ownership of a NASCAR Cup Series Team Charter unless something drastically changes within the sport, he admits that he and Kelley are still at the table listening to offers, potential partnerships, and other paths to become NASCAR Cup Series team owners without forking over the full price of a Charter. They just haven’t found the right fit. And they may not ever find the right fit. But they’ll keep trying.

“Me and Kelley have talked about getting into it. We’ve seen some opportunities to do that, they didn’t work out,” Earnhardt stated. “We’re still like at the table talking to different teams about maybe partnering, or investing, or getting — you know, we’re always open to hearing what somebody thinks about what a partnership with us would look like. But none of them, to this point, have been, ‘That’s it! Yeah, that’s a perfect match, man. That’s exactly what we’re looking for.’ For the longest time, me and Kelley thought if we were going to go to racing in the Cup Series, we wanted to own and operate. Trying to part from that is tough, because if we’re doing something with a partner or something already existing, we’re not going to be making any decisions. And as the price goes up, it gets harder to make that commitment.”

Earnhardt admits that he and Kelley have even toyed around with the idea of fielding an “Open” entry in the NASCAR Cup Series, but it just doesn’t make sense in the current climate. Earnhardt says with the Next Gen car still being such a new animal, there isn’t a large pool of people in the industry that have knowledge about the car that you can plug-in for a successful Open entry.

“We’ve even had those conversations about going and running an Open race with a car,” Earnhardt said. “We’ve thought about everything, we’ve talked about everything. And there’s not — and I’m not saying no to anything, but right now, it doesn’t look favorable for us to ever own a Charter out-right.”

If a deal ever comes to fruition that makes sense for Dale and Kelley to make the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series as team owners, it’ll be a popular move for a large portion of the NASCAR fan base. But at the end of the day, the current NASCAR Cup Series team owners that have possession of their Charters are running businesses. And just because someone has the last name Earnhardt, doesn’t mean they should willingly hand over a piece of their business.

But you never know, someday, the right pieces may fall into place, and Earnhardt may find himself as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner. If not, though, he’s perfectly happy running JR Motorsports, his successful NASCAR Xfinity Series race team.

“I’m on the sidelines, I’m a fan. We still love being in the Xfinity Series, and I really say that with all honesty. Being in the Xfinity Series is a lot of fun, and we serve a great purpose for the series and for the sport,” Earnhardt emphasized. “We provide a lot of opportunity, not just for the drivers, but all of our employees and the people that come through our shop, and all of those crew chiefs that want to make it to the next level, the Cup level. I love the purpose we serve there. We’re kind of comfortable doing that. It’s like, alright, if this Charter deal doesn’t look really like a great fit, we’re pretty happy with where we are. I think that makes it easier to say no to some of the opportunities that you get presented on the Cup side.”

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One Response

  1. Approach a single car team like JTG Daughtry for a partnership, buy a Charter together, and expand to a 2 car team. They run Chevy, so it should be a good fit for Dale Jr and Jr Motorsports to finally get into Cup.

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