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‘It’s Disappointing’: Denny Hamlin on Jim France Declining a Meeting with Cup Series Teams at Daytona

Denny Hamlin Jim France NASCAR Team Owners Charter Agreement negotiations

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

While we are all focused on the on-track aspect of NASCAR with the Daytona 500 kicking off the official start of the 2024 regular season for the NASCAR Cup Series this past Monday, the single biggest storyline to keep an eye on behind the scenes all year long is the negotiations between the race teams and NASCAR on the Charter Agreement and its status past the 2024 season.

This past weekend at Daytona, the NASCAR Cup Series team owners reportedly called a meeting to further discuss the situation, which has seemingly reached an impasse. The group invited NASCAR CEO Jim France in an effort to revive the stalled negotiations.

France ultimately opted to not partake in the meeting.

Denny Hamlin spoke in-depth about the emotions of France declining the invite to speak with the owners at Daytona on this week’s Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin.

“I do know that the team owners met on Saturday. I was there,” Hamlin, who co-owns the 23XI Racing team, said. “The invitation was extended to Jim France, who was in town, but he declined that invitation. It’s disappointing, certainly. I can’t think of a league, or an owner of a league, or a commissioner that would decline meeting with his team owners. That’s very disappointing. And all I think the teams are wanting is, you said no over, and over, and over to us, and we’re just looking for an explanation of why and we haven’t gotten that why yet. Other than it just is.”

The Associated Press reported that the race teams hired antitrust lawyer Jeffrey Kessler on Sunday night following the unsuccessful meeting attempt with NASCAR on Saturday. While Kessler is a notable lawyer, who has had success in numerous sports leagues, Hamlin feels the hiring of Kessler will serve simply as a layer of protection for the teams that have invested so much in the Charter system.

“I don’t have anything else to say about it other than there’s a story to be told on the owner’s part. Hiring Jeffrey is a big step for the owners, but I think a lot of it is just protection for the team owners,” Hamlin explained. “Obviously, there’s a lot of language and so much red tape when it comes to charter agreements and whatnot. You just have to make sure you have all the protection you need. Because this is a big deal. The Charter Agreement is a big deal to us.”

Hamlin feels that despite NASCAR indicating openly in the media that they expect a fair deal between the sanctioning body and the teams to be reached, he’s not as optimistic about that possibility at this juncture.

“I don’t know. I hear Steve Phelps, and I appreciate when he did the interview with Fox [saying], ‘We’re going to get a deal done. We’re going to have a fair agreement to the teams,’ I appreciate his optimism. I’m not as optimistic as probably Steve is, but I don’t know how much of that is what he believes is truth, and how much of it is what he believes versus a narrative that is being tried to put out there. [It’s] Awfully disappointing that we just can’t get our feet out of the mud on this thing, but hopefully we get some traction here soon.”

The thing the race teams have going for them at this moment is that they all are seemingly in-sync on what they’re looking for out of the negotiations.

“Yeah, Michael [Jordan] attended. It was great to hear voices like his, Rick Hendrick, and Roger Penske. Everyone is just kind of right there,” Hamlin said. “Hearing these guys, that are very versed in business. Hearing their side and how they feel and certainly, I feel all of the teams are aligned in that they feel the same way, for sure.”

NASCAR, as a sport, is very unique to other stick and ball sports as the teams in the top-tier level of the sport regularly don’t turn a profit, including Hendrick Motorsports — the sport’s most successful team — which says it hasn’t ended a year in the black in a decade.

That is an eye-opening statement as team owners in the National Football League, and other sporting leagues are constantly raking in massive profits year-over-year, particularly when they are the best team in their respective league.

It’s obvious that the financial structure of NASCAR needs to change, and with the sanctioning body reaching a $7-billion media rights deal beginning in 2025, everyone wants their fair share of the haul, including the teams. But the question is what is a fair share?

That remains to be seen, but as long as the teams stay together in this fight, you would expect that negotiations would have to begin moving sooner rather than later.

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One Response

  1. The teams have to tow the line every time NASCAR CHANGES the car designs. I can understand making the cars safer. But the smaller teams are just holding their heads above the water to keep running.

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