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News

Wood Bros, GoFas Will Have 2017 Charters; NASCAR’s System Causing Odd Moves in Silly Season

On Thursday, GoFAS Racing announced Matt DiBenedetto would be its full-time driver in the No. 32 in 2017 and that Wood Brothers Racing is leasing its Charter for the No. 21 with Ryan Blaney.

However, GoFAS will not enter the upcoming season without a Charter; the single-car team is leasing one from Richard Petty Motorsports.

Since RPM’s Brian Scott announced his retirement from NASCAR racing, plans for the No. 44 have not been made.

It appears RPM will shrink to a single-car effort next year with Aric Almirola returning in the No. 43. If the organization wants to run a second car, that entry will have to qualify for points races based on speed.

The ongoing NASCAR Silly Season has been a busy one, and with the influence of the 10-month-old Charter system, business has taken a few strange twists.

HScott Motorsports is leaving NASCAR’s top division. The team had two Charters in 2016 — one of which was leased and returned to Premium Motorsports and then sold to Furniture Row Racing for its new No. 77, which rookie Erik Jones will drive. The other was purchased by Premium for 2017.

The two drivers that raced for HSM in 2016 are not without a ride for 2017, though. Clint Bowyer is taking over Tony Stewart‘s No. 14 at Stewart-Haas Racing and Michael Annett will pilot the No. 5 for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series.

Roush Fenway Racing leased its No. 16 Charter to JTG Daugherty Racing for a second full-time entry. Greg Biffle announced he would not return to RFR for 2017 and Chris Buescher, who is under contract with RFR, will leave the Ford team Front Row Motorsports and pilot the No. 37 Chevrolet — a second JTG car.

Both Biffle and FRM’s No. 34, which Buescher drove to victory in a rain-shortened Pocono race and made the Chase, have an unknown status right now regarding 2017.

Leavine Family Racing leased Circle Sport Racing’s Charter for the No. 95 in 2016 and it has been since returned to CSR. Supposedly, CSR will run the No. 33 again full-time, but there has been nothing announced. There’s been speculation Casey Mears could take over the ride after Germain Racing announced he would not return despite him and sponsor Geico signing a contract extension through 2018. The No. 13 will be run by rookie Ty Dillon, and Geico will return next year.

LFR bought Tommy Baldwin Racing’s Charter before the Homestead-Miami Speedway race in November and the No. 95 will use it to guarantee a spot in every race next year. TBR will not run a full-time schedule in 2017 and Regan Smith, who drove the team’s No. 7 in 2016, has not announced plans for the upcoming season.

When the Charter system was created in February, it was awarded to 36 teams that attempted every race since the start of 2013. The Wood Brothers team didn’t qualify for a Charter as it ran a part-time schedule from 2009-2015 and it sparked a bit of outrage among fans since it is NASCAR’s oldest and one of the most winningest teams.

Now, the famed No. 21 will be guaranteed into all 36 points events with Blaney embarking on his sophomore season in the car. And DiBenedetto will have the same security as his new team leased RPM’s No. 44 Charter.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Furniture Row Adds Jones for 2017; Will Need A Charter

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Furniture Row Racing announced on Sunday that Erik Jones will compete full-time in the 2017 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season driving a second car for the Denver-based organization.

Jones, the 20-year-old star for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series, will drive the No. 77 5-Hour Energy Toyota as a teammate to Sprint Cup veteran Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Toyota. Jones won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title for Kyle Busch Motorsports and currently leads the XFINITY Chase standings in the JGR No. 20 Toyota with three victories.

Jones is signed to a one-year contract with FRR for 2017. Since the organization has only one charter spot in the 36-team system, the newly-formed No. 77 team will not be guaranteed into every race next season unless a second charter is acquired.

“There are several charters out there that we are hearing are available,” team owner Barney Visser said. “We’ve been looking at some, but we don’t know where exactly where we are going to be on that. We are going to get a charter, but we’re not sure who we are going to get it from yet.”

The inevitable purchase of a charter is more likely to come from a smaller Cup team when the 2016 season concludes, so here are some potential charters for sale when the NASCAR offseason begins in November:

HSCOTT Motorsports No. 15

HSM fields two chartered teams in the Cup Series, but their 2017 plans are unknown. Clint Bowyer signed with HSM to drive the No. 15 Chevrolet for one year in a placeholder position until he can join Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Bowyer will take over Tony Stewart’s seat in the No. 14 Ford as the three-time Cup champion will retire from Cup racing after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As for HSM, there’s a lot of unknowns for next year, and they may not return to Cup at all in 2017.

Premium Motorsports No. 55/98

Premium Motorsports agreed to a one-year deal to let HSM’s No. 46 Chevrolet have a guaranteed spot in every 2016 Cup race. The No. 46’s driver, Michael Annett, has had a less-than-spectacular tenure in two seasons with HSM and his average finish in 2016 is 32nd. His contract with HSM is up when the 2016 campaign ends so he will be looking for a 2017 Cup ride. The No. 46 charter will return to Premium when the season ends so the team could decide to sell the charter again but to FRR this time.

GoFas Racing No. 32

The No. 32 has not qualified for every race since the start of 2013, but the team has attempted every one of them since then, which was the requirement for a team to be granted a charter when NASCAR created the agreement in February. The small Cup team could decide to sell just as Premium did for HSM in February, but this scenario seems less likely as it has a multi-year deal with Jeffrey Earnhardt to run a majority of the races in the coming seasons.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.