Who would be best suited to purchase JTG’s charter?

Immediately rumors of an ownership shake-up at JTG Daugherty Racing, which team would be best suited to purchase its charter in a potential sale?

Mark Kristl: Trackhouse racing. Between Shane van Gisbergen, Connor Zilisch and Zane Smith, the organization has three talented drivers. Yes, Smith drives full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, but he drives under a Spire Motorsports charter. Speaking of Spire, Rajah Caruth has been signed into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program, not to mention other Chevrolet drivers who may want to race in the Cup full-time sooner or later, like Richard Childress Racing duo Jesse Love and Austin Hill. Spire has worked with other Chevy teams in the past to fill out its Truck lineup, so the JTG charter may best go to Trackhouse to allow Spire to have its No. 71 charter available for another Cup -ready prospect.

Austin bass: Putting aside concerns about the long-term viability of the charter system, Trackhouse would make the most sense to acquire a third charter. It is one of the few competitive organizations with room to expand, as it currently has two teams, and it has shown a willingness in the past to outspend mainstream purchasing charters. It will have to decide that again soon – the price of charters has continued to skyrocket since it bought Chip Ganassi Racing and started the buying spree that got us to this point – and it has a surplus of developmental talent on its payroll for its coveted spot on the starting grid of the Cup. A third charter would alleviate many of these stressors.

Steve Leffew: Trackhouse is the obvious answer, but I’ll go with RFK Racing. It was previously a four-car team and seems to be recovering. A third car would give it a new data point and another step in rebuilding to its former glory.

Josh Calloni: Trackhouse, RFK or 23XI Racing can best be expanded with the JTG charter sales. Trackhouse has already leased the Spire charter to Smith, and with the emergence of Van Gisbergen the team in its current form may have four Cup-quality drivers for three charters. The other two teams have had more success in two-car racing over the past two years.

Alex Bowman makes his 300th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover Motor Speedway. How do you assess his career so far?

Bass: Only 69 drivers in Cup history have won more times in 75 years than Alex Bowman. He’s not Hall of Fame worthy at this point in his career, but seven is a respectable number of wins in such a competitive era. To do this in the famous number 48 is even more of an achievement considering the pressure placed on him as he tried to follow in the footsteps of the giant who came before him. His old-fashioned journey to the top of the sport was not paved with gold as is the case for many modern drivers. He drove many of his 300 starts in underfunded equipment, outperforming the race cars available to him and keeping himself on the radar so team owners could notice his talent and determination. Bowman is only 30 years old, so he will likely climb the all-time wins list as he approaches his prime and continues to build a solid career.

Calloni: Bowman has had a great career so far. Making a name for himself after years of playing for smaller teams and winning seven times in the Cup Series is nothing to scoff at. He is often compared to his teammates, who are all at the top of the sport in terms of performance, but Bowman is no pushover.

Leffew: Bowman wasn’t part of a competitive ride until 2018. Since then, he has won seven races but missed races due to injury in 2022 and 2023. He has been better than many drivers driving for Hendrick Motorsports, including respected competitors Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven and Joe Nemechek. But he has always been third or fourth fiddle on stacked teams in recent years. Bowman is a good driver, but not as good as some of his teammates who will likely end up in the Hall of Fame.

Crystal: Bowman has enjoyed a mildly successful career. Three top-15 points, seven wins and the opportunity to capitalize on his rides with underfunded BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing to land his current ride. Yet Bowman has only had one multi-win season, and he has only seven career Cup victories. Compared to his Hendrick teammates, he is underperforming. He is also over thirty years old, so he is not a young star. So unless Bowman wins this year and/or makes a solid playoff run, he could very well start 2025 on the hot seat for not meeting HMS standards.

Are you concerned about the lack of a charter agreement before 2025?

Bass: As intrigued as I am by the politics and attitudes of the two sides of this war, I am not concerned about reaching an agreement between NASCAR and the Race Team Alliance. Ultimately, NASCAR has the upper hand here and will bring down the hammer if it has to. It owns the racing cars, the race tracks and the media rights. The racing teams are lucky to have them. These organizations don’t even own the rights to the drivers on their payroll. They are independent contractors who would happily appear at next year’s Daytona 500 in cars owned and prepared by Satan himself if the teams violate their contracts with drivers by boycotting the race. And I will enjoy watching.

Crystal: No. The new media rights deal was signed about six months ago, which has delayed negotiations. The lack of an agreement reminds me of when MLB players went on strike to start the 2023 season. No one wanted the baseball season to be postponed, shortened or something worse. The same goes for NASCAR. Although the two sides have not yet agreed on a deal, everyone knows that disrupting the start of the 2025 season would be catastrophic. Moreover, both parties want the charter system to continue; it’s a matter of how long and the financial factors holding up the deal. Additionally, keep in mind that NASCAR usually doesn’t announce its schedules for the following season until halfway through the current season. A charter agreement will be finalized before the 2025 Daytona 500.

Calloni: Yes and no. These matters often take time, but agreements can be reached quickly. I compare it to the 2021 MLB lockout, when an agreement was reached within a few weeks of post-holiday discussions that year. Since it’s only April, there’s still plenty of time to work out an agreement, but the clock is certainly ticking. If no progress is made in the next two to three months, there is certainly cause for concern.

How far can new winner Jesse Love go in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs?

Calloni: He could easily be a championship contender. Through the first handful of races, Love has shown very good speed almost every week. He struggled to finish races to start his found it. He will certainly find himself making a deep playoff run.

Leffew: Love has been so impressive and continues to get better. He will challenge Hill to become the top Xfinity driver at Richard Childress Racing. I don’t think he’s ready to make it to Championship 4 yet, but he can make it to the Round of 8.

Bass: As predicted before the season started, it was only a matter of time before Love found victory lane. Now that he’s locked into the playoffs, he can start preparing for the tracks Xfinity will visit when the Round of 12 begins. And wouldn’t you know it, Talladega is in the first round. Love should easily find himself in the eighth round, but moving up to the fourth division will be much more difficult as intermediate circuits are not RCR’s strong suit. Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be a challenge, but if Love can make it to the championship round at Phoenix Raceway, where he finished second earlier this season, the rookie could be the favorite to take home the title.

Crystal: The trajectory of love mirrors that of Sammy Smith. Both have parlayed their successful careers in the ARCA Menards Series into top-level full-time NXS riding. Smith made it to the Round of 8 in his rookie Xfinity season; Love will do the same this season with at least one more win. Love is still a rookie, though, so he won’t quite make it to Championship 4.

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the start of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site’s ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud alum of the University of Dayton.

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Austin Bass joined Frontstretch as a contributor in 2024 to combine his passion for racing and writing. Born in Wilson, NC, he developed a passion for racing at an early age while visiting local short tracks with his father on Saturday evenings and watching the stars of the sport from their living room on Sunday afternoons.

Bass graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a degree in Communication Studies, where he developed a deep understanding, appreciation and love for the Oxford comma. He is a salesman of industrial degreasers for Cox Industries when he is not writing or talking about racing.

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Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023 and covered the Xfinity Series. He lives in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan for as long as he can remember. He served honorably in the United States Air Force and works as a real estate agent during the week.

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Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently plays the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He is currently studying for a degree in mass communications at Lindenwood University.

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