Toyota pipeline flows freely with youth, talent
RELATED: First look at new Toyota race car The expeditious elevation of Daniel Suarez into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series last week reinforced the importance of a feeder system for teams hoping to groom young, talented drivers for future endeavors at the top level. "Look around. What would we have done?" Joe Gibbs, founder and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing , said Jan. 10 following two whirlwind announcements at the organization's headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina. Suarez, the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and the first Mexican-born driver to win a national series title in NASCAR, was scheduled to return to the XFINITY Series this year to defend his title. But the surprising departure of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Carl Edwards created an unexpected opening within the JGR camp and the organization's No. 19 entry. RELATED: Edwards steps away, Suarez to replace " Full timeline Fortunately for JGR, the 24-year-old Suarez was waiting in the wings. Instead of competing full-time in the XFINITY Series, Suarez will now take over the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry vacated by Edwards for 2017. He will also compete in a select number of NXS races. "I think the hard work, working on developing young guys is a big part of this," Gibbs said of organization's XFINITY Series effort. "Thank goodness (Suarez) was there and we had done that." Suarez is one of several drivers in a Toyota pipeline that has become filled with young talent. The automaker, which made its NASCAR debut in 2004 in the Camping World Truck Series, continually seeks to identify gifted drivers from a variety of racing's lower levels, then assist them and their teams as they move through the ranks. Erik Jones will compete full-time in 2017 for Furniture Row Racing as a teammate to Martin Truex Jr . in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after racing for JGR's XFINITY Series program a year ago. RELATED: FRR adds Jones to its growing team Christopher Bell will once again drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series after finishing third in points last year. Although he was sidelined for part of the '16 season following surgery for a brain tumor, Matt Tifft , 20, made 10 XFINITY Series starts for JGR last year as well as 10 NCWTS starts for Red Horse Racing. Ben Rhodes (19) and Cameron Hayley (20) competed last season for ThorSport Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. "Our farm system is going to continue to be something that we invest in," David Wilson, President & General Manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, told NASCAR.com. "It's validation and it just furthers our resolve that in spite of the inherent risk … the return on that investment is still going to be good and it's going to validate our commitment." Wilson was scheduled to attend this past weekend's Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The prestigious event, which concluded Saturday night, was won by Bell. MORE: Bell triumphs at Chili Bowl "I want to show them how important it is for them to be representing our brand," Wilson said. With more than two dozen of the 300-plus participants at the Chili Bowl affiliated with Toyota, Wilson said there is "no doubt" that someone from the group "is going to be in an announcement like this that happened (at JGR) five years from now." Having an abundance of talent is a good problem, but it is still a problem, in part because of the limited number of seats/rides available in the various series, according to Ed Laukes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA. "We are always concerned about being overloaded with the young guys as they're coming through the ranks," he said, "because we don't want to have that talent get developed around TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and our guys, and then they end up with another company, with another manufacturer, with another race team." Toyota officials are eager to help identify and work with drivers and teams as they grow, according to Laukes. But ultimately, it's up to owners to continue to invest in their own programs or, as Furniture Row Racing did last year, make the switch to Toyota to further enhance their efforts. Furniture Row made the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for 2016. The Denver, Colorado-based organization has since added the second team, opening up an opportunity for Jones to move up to the premier series. "That's always going to be the secret sauce in the whole thing," Laukes said. "Because we can't do it as a manufacturer. We're not a team owner, we never have been and we have no plan of being a team owner. … "But it always is a concern. We do a lot of stuff in Late Model, a lot of stuff in Midgets. We’ve been around a lot of those series for a long time." JGR develops and draws talent from more than just the organization's XFINITY Series program. Kyle Busch Motorsports plays a key role in the process as well. Gibbs said Busch, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the team's No. 18 Toyota, "has been very good at analyzing and discovering young talent. "He still races in Late Models and all that kind of stuff," Gibbs said. "I talk to him a lot and say, 'Hey, who do you see?' Or ask him an opinion. I've asked him for his opinion on Daniel, on Erik. And he’s normally pretty much spot-on. He's really good, I think, at evaluating drivers." While Busch has been criticized by some for competing in, and often dominating, races in other series, running those events has allowed him to evaluate his KBM equipment as well as the younger drivers. "For us, when we put somebody in his trucks, we pretty much know they're going to be in the best stuff," Gibbs said. "Now, it's up to them. And if they can't get it done with Kyle, then odds are there's something wrong. … "Hopefully that's the way it is with our XFINITY program. We know (we have) the best crew chiefs, best motor, best car. If they can't get to the front with that, then odds are … that's what you're evaluating. We're all looking for that special driver." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR simplifies manufacturer points system
Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Determination, focus drive Martin to Hall of Fame
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 " Martin's top moments Mark Martin is respected and revered for a 31-year NASCAR racing career that includes 40 Cup victories, 49 XFINITY wins and five heralded IROC championships. He is considered one of the most talented, highly focused and broadly successful competitors in NASCAR history. And later this week, Martin will formally acquire a designation that makes him most proud of all: NASCAR Hall of Famer. "When I'm introduced at a function, now people can call me something, I'll have a title," Martin, 58, said this week with a laugh. "Prior to that, you kind of had to search for a title, although I had done a lot of cool and amazing things in my career." His long list of "cool and amazing things" is what earned Martin this highest of honors. He joins Benny Parsons, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks in this year’s Hall of Fame class and will be formally inducted Friday in Charlotte (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). RELATED: Parks set early standard " Prolonged excellence Childress' hallmark For Martin, it is a story of supreme determination and talent. In addition to his 40 wins and five championship runner-up finishes in NASCAR's highest level, Martin proved to be one of the series’ most diverse competitors -- ever. He won four GT class championships competing in the Rolex 24 during the 1990s. And his five IROC titles -- and four more runner-up IROC championship finishes -- showed Martin’s great ability bettering the best drivers across all forms of racing from NASCAR to IndyCar to sports cars to sprint cars. It is certainly something that separates and elevates him to the highest of standards through four decades of the best competition in multiple genres. So understandably, Martin had to really think about what in his vast career makes him most proud. "I don't know if there's a single thing," Martin said. "One thing, I would have to say the fact that I made it to NASCAR at such a young age (22). At the time it was an amazingly young age, then I fell on my face and had to go home and start my career again. "So I would say perseverance, if you want to sum it up in one word. Having to start my career all over again and building my way back. Having a second chance is probably the biggest thing." "And the second thing is what I did in the IROC Series." Martin has acknowledged that he was as focused and intense as they came. He was the first driver to seriously incorporate fitness training into his race preparation -- something that may have eased his ability to compete at such a high level even into his 50s. That determination to find an edge was apparent in the garage, even from an early age. He was among the rare drivers to frequently be seen looking into the hood of his car and working alongside the crew. It was the way he was raised by his father Julian, who took great care in guiding his son's passion. There are photos of Martin’s earliest racing days clearly showing how Julian Martin had gone so far to alter his son's first race cars out of love and safety -- mounting the steering wheel in the middle of the car instead of having it on the far left. Dad and son travelled from their native Arkansas throughout the Midwest following the racing dream and they were very close -- now the hard work rewarded with Martin’s long list of achievements and this highest of NASCAR's high honors. Heartbreakingly, Julian was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Nevada mountains in August of 1998, also taking the life of Martin’s stepmother and 11-year old stepsister. Martin remembers immersing himself in competition as best he could to deal with the tragedy. Martin won the night race at Bristol two weeks after losing his father. Immediately after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane, he emotionally thanked the race fans for "their sympathy, love and support" saying their "love for our family has meant everything." "I felt it was my obligation and responsibility to go racing and that's what my dad would have wanted," Martin acknowledged last week. "It was tough, but it would have been tough sitting on a couch in a daze, too. "To me, racing was sort of a responsibility that I had. I felt responsibility toward the 50 or 100 people that supported the (then-Roush Racing) 6-car and a responsibility to race. I just didn't feel like missing a race because I was grieving. … To me, at the time, it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. "It did help me cope with the horrendous loss I was experiencing because I did have to pick up and go racing." And for Martin, the success he would later experience in the second half of his career is as impressive and inspiring as anything he accomplished. He came as close as he ever had to winning the Daytona 500 in 2007, losing the race to Kevin Harvick by a mere 0.02-seconds -- a hood-length -- in a photo finish that marked Martin’s best ever showing in the Great American Race. RELATED: Closest finishes in the history of the Great American Race Two years later, at the age of 50, Martin challenged Jimmie Johnson for what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, winning five races and claiming seven pole positions. Martin led the standings after each of the opening three Chase races, only to finish runner-up to Johnson, a seven-time winner on the year. It marked the fifth and final time Martin was a championship runner-up in an amazing 20-year span of his career. It is a remarkable accomplishment and something he says he is at last comfortable enjoying, free of any near-miss regret. "I never scored enough points to win one, and that's that," Martin said, when asked about it last week. "I would have won one if I had scored more points than anyone else. … and I let that take an enormous amount of joy (from me). "It's something I let go of and I refuse to allow that to rob me of joy. I have a lot to be thankful of, be grateful for. I accomplished a lot in my career and I’m not sour about the things I didn't accomplish." The attitude accompanies good reason -- because by all standards Martin accomplished so much and is admired by so many. Later this week, he will be fittingly celebrated in all the glory he deserves for a career that showed everyone what hard work and mental focus could produce. Forever more, Mark Martin shall be known and introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer. "It means more than anything I achieved while I was racing because I was so busy racing, anything I achieved I never paid attention to," Martin said. "I was just storming ahead worried about how I would win the next race. "Now that I've had some time to soak it in, it's the last big deal, the big win, the crown jewel of my career. "Don't forget the people in the Hall of Fame are my heroes, the founders of the sport, the real men that did it with their bare hands. I'm a little bit uncomfortable going in there with them, to be honest with you, because I don't feel like I belong in that kind of company." Perhaps once he stands on stage -- properly celebrated and duly honored -- Martin will accept that he is absolutely a part of that good company. The best. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
JR Motorsports ramps up with 2017 expansion
RELATED: Driver Tracker " On the move: Changes in store for 2017 The encore for an organization that placed both of its full-time drivers into the Championship 4 field in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase last year has the chance to be even greater. JR Motorsports has that unique possibility, an opportunity granted by not sitting still. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier return to the fold after prosperous debut years with the team, but that's where the offseason status quo ends. JRM plans a full-court press for the upcoming XFINITY season, expanding from two to four full-time drivers in an all-out push to bring home the championship it barely missed out on in 2017. "To have that opportunity to go up against three teammates, to see the growth in our shop, to see the growth in our teams, it's really, really fun to watch," Allgaier said. "I feel like if you came back here next year and said we'd have four cars from JR Motorsports in the final four, it wouldn't surprise me at all." A four-car sweep for the Homestead-Miami finale in November would mean stellar introductions by the two newest faces in the JRM stable: up-and-coming teenager William Byron, a NASCAR Next alum, and 30-year-old vet Michael Annett , back in XFINITY after a three-year stint in NASCAR's top division. The addition of Byron, a 19-year-old prospect in the Hendrick Motorsports system , actually counts as a reunion. The Liberty University student was a former driver for JRM's Late Model program on the weekly and touring level. His teammates have already seen what he can do in top-level equipment. Byron won seven times in his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with only a crucial engine failure in 2016's penultimate race keeping him from the championship fight. It's the reason Sadler has touted him as "a star of the future" and why Allgaier echoed the thought, calling Byron "an absolute class act and an amazing talent." Kelley Earnhardt Miller -- who co-owns JRM with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- spoke with tones of regret in describing how Byron got away in late 2015, snapped up by Kyle Busch Motorsports and seemingly earmarked for an upward career arc in the Toyota pipeline. That changed last August when team owner Rick Hendrick brought him back into the Chevrolet camp, cognizant of the creeping advancement in age of his Monster Energy Cup Series roster. "For that to all come back full circle, we're real excited about it," Earnhardt Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "He's just a great kid and a good family, and his story is just so cool -- doing the computer racing [on iRacing] and then telling his dad he wants to race and then not racing until he was 15. It's just a good story. But Mr. Hendrick deserves the credit there, trying to look at his next moves because he's going to have some drivers that are on the retirement horizon in the next several years, so smart move for him to make all that happen." Said Byron: "I just remember their ultimate goal for me when I started racing Late Models was so I could race an XFINITY car there. In a weird way, I got back to that and it's going to be really cool to return next year." To accommodate the escalated XFINITY Series growth, which Earnhardt Miller said has maxed out the team's resources, JR Motorsports has closed its truck series operation. Cole Custer , who drove the JRM No. 00 truck the last two seasons, has since moved on to Stewart-Haas Racing 's XFINITY program. As in past years, JR Motorsports plans to run an extra XFINITY entry in select races with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers Earnhardt and Kasey Kahne behind the wheel for two races each. But at the heart of its growth are the core four XFINITY regulars, a direction chosen in light of new driver participation guidelines that go into effect in 2017. The continuity will keep JRM from scrambling to shuffle its roster once the Chase playoff begins and the limits on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in the XFINITY ranks become more stringent. But the organization will still need to make inroads against stout competition, especially Joe Gibbs Racing , which won 19 of the 33 XFINITY races last season and took the other two spots in the four-driver championship round. Reminded of the heady assignment a day after last season's finale, Allgaier was unwavering. "Even with the Gibbs guys," Allgaier said. "I don't know, I just feel like with the packages that we've seen of what's a possibility for the XFINITY Series next year, the work that we're doing at the shop and the cars and just all the things that we've been working on, I really think next year's an opportunity for us at JR Motorsports."
How NASCAR driver points are awarded per race
Under the charter system that was established in 2016, NASCAR's premier series events have 40 cars in the field. Each finishing spot in the field earns a driver points , from a maximum of 40 points to the driver who finishes first, down to one point for the driver who finishes 40th. These points accrue over a season and determine the driver standings, as well as the owner standings. Points are accumulated over each of the 36 races. There is a reset for the 16 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the regular-season finale at Richmond, the series' 26th race of the season. There are additional points resets in the postseason after the completion of the three-race Round of 16, Round of 12 and Round of 8. Below is a look at how a driver earns points based on finishing position. Additionally, a driver can earn bonus points for the following: -- Three bonus points to the race-winning driver -- One bonus point to any driver who leads a lap in a race -- One bonus point to the driver who leads the most laps in a race Other key items to know: • The driver who starts the race receives the points ; a relief driver does not earn points . • If two or more drivers tie for most laps led, each gets a bonus point. • Bonus points are not awarded in the final race of the season to the Championship 4 drivers.
NASCAR's Charter teams
RELATED: Driver Tracker for every full-time 2017 ride MORE: Learn more about the Charter system NASCAR revealed in February 2016 a landmark new ownership structure, awarding 36 Charters that guarantee entry into every points event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, some leasing and buying of Charters has occurred. The table below shows the Charters (which were awarded following the 2015 season) for 2017. Teams listed alphabetically. Notes: *Premium Motorsports sold this Charter to Furniture Row Racing for its second team, the No. 77. In 2016, the Charter was leased by the No. 46 team of HScott Motorsports . ** Richard Petty Motorsports is leasing the No. 44 Charter to the No. 32 team of Go Fas Racing in 2017. *** Roush Fenway Racing will lease the No. 16 Charter to JTG Daugherty Racing 's newly formed second team (No. 37) in 2017. ^Near the end of the 2016 season, Tommy Baldwin Racing sold its Charter to Leavine Family Racing . # HScott Motorsports ' No. 15 Charter was sold to Premium Motorsports. & Go Fas Racing is leasing the No. 32 Charter to the No. 21 team of Wood Brothers Racing . $ Circle Sport and The Motorsports Group merged operations to field the No. 33 team with the Charter Circle Sport had. In 2016, Circle Sport partnered with Leavine Family Racing to field the No. 95 for the season.
Chase Bubble: Points update before regular-season finale
RELATED: Provisional Chase Grid Here's a breakdown of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Grid and bubble picture after Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . NO NEW WINNER, NO CHANGES Martin Truex Jr . already had clinched a Chase spot, so his win at Darlington didn't cause any changes in the Chase Grid. There was a moment of uncertainty when Ryan Newman led for Laps 330-338 of the 367-lap race, however. But Newman slipped back, and he remains the first driver outside the Chase Grid. Newman also faces a potential penalty for failing post-race Laser Inspection System at Darlington. Jamie McMurray currently clings to the final Chase berth with one regular-season event at Richmond remaining. BUESCHER'S STANDING Chris Buescher 's 17th-place finish helped boost his Chase chances. Buescher prevailed at Pocono Raceway in August to check off one requirement for Chase eligibility; the second is a place among the top 30 in the Sprint Cup driver standings. Buescher remains 30th in the standings, increasing his lead over 31st-place David Ragan to 11 points . LOCKED IN Drivers who have clinched a spot in the Chase are: Brad Keselowski , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr . (all with multiple wins), along with one-win drivers Kurt Busch , Kyle Larson , Joey Logano and Tony Stewart . Chris Buescher is currently in the Chase Grid, but has not clinched a spot. After Sunday's 500-miler, just one regular-season race (Richmond) remains before the 16-driver postseason field is settled. BUBBLE WATCH With 25 of 26 regular-season races complete, just three at-large spots (at present) for non-winners remain available. Here's how that picture looks post-Darlington. Editor's note: The standings below are the Chase Grid standings, not the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers' standings.
Texas Motor Speedway to be repaved ahead of April races
RELATED: Buy tickets for Texas Following a year that saw both its NASCAR race weekends impacted by rain and track drying issues, officials with Texas Motor Speedway have announced a capital improvement project that includes a repaving of the 1.5-mile racing surface, the installation of an expansive drainage system as well as a reconfiguration of Turns 1 and 2. Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said the decision wasn't a difficult one to make "because you always want to please the fans. "I think the initial response from some drivers is no (don’t repave) … but they were all here … they all experienced it. It really wasn't a choice; we need to do this." The spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas in 2016 was delayed nearly two hours due to rain; the fall event was delayed approximately six hours, finally started under a green/yellow flag situation and was eventually shortened 41 laps when precipitation returned. The project is expected to be completed by March 1. NASCAR teams are scheduled to return to Texas April 7-9 for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and Cowboy 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Gossage said he hoped Goodyear officials would hold a tire test at the track upon completion of the repave. "We are going to strongly encourage Goodyear to test and not just bring a hard tire," he said. "That will be a mistake." However, in a statement released Friday afternoon, Goodyear official Greg Stucker said the tire supplier "will have to bring a new tire set-up" for the race weekend but that "because of the tight schedule, we do not have time to do a tire test." Stucker said that similar changes were made at Kentucky last year, and along with the tire supplier's history over a wide range of track configurations and surfaces, "we will determine the appropriate tire set-up in advance of the event, giving teams plenty of time to prepare." The Kentucky repave project also included a reconfiguration of its first and second turns and drainage improvements. Gossage said that repaving the track also afforded officials the opportunity to drop the banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 to 20 degrees, a move that could provide more passing opportunities as drivers should have to lift off the gas and possibly brake more due to the flatter turns. "Hopefully in time as the asphalt ages the drivers will have to stay out of the gas a little longer, hopefully use the brake some in Turns 1-2 and that sets up passing opportunities in the turns, on the back straightaway and of course now you're carrying a different speed through Turns 3-4 and hopefully that creates some passing opportunities on the front straight as well," he said. "A whole lot of different things going on here, but the big thing … that you're not seeing is underneath it is this drainage system . Because we want to make sure that we don't struggle with the issues that weve struggled with last year. It's not fair to the fans." Also, making the changes now means that teams will race on the same surface on both trips to Texas this season, something Gossage said was particularly important given that the fall race is one of the final Chase races. "We didn't want to have two different Texas Motor Speedway s in one NASCAR season, especially when we were the third Chase race from the end of the season," he said. "We felt like you need to have the same track when you're here in April and when you're here in November in the course of a season." No cost estimate was given for the project. Texas is the second track to announce a repaving project this year. Atlanta Motor Speedway , which is also owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., will be repaved following the completion of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 slated for March 5. Graphic courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway
Fast facts about NASCAR's team owner Charter system
RELATED: NASCAR announces landmark new ownership structure NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France joined with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owners on Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, to announce a landmark long-term agreement on an owner Charter system . The agreement provides teams with an increased business certainty and the ability to work more closely with NASCAR to continue to produce best-in-class racing. Below are fast facts about the comprehensive agreement. • This long-term agreement is for nine years. • There are 36 Charter teams, currently from among 19 organizations. The number 36 was not pre-determined -- NASCAR analyzed which teams showed a long-term commitment to the sport by attempting to qualify every week for the past three years. That criteria yielded 36 Charters. • Because of the above criteria, the following teams do not have Charters: the No. 19 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 21 of Wood Brothers Racing , the No. 41 of Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 46 of HScott Motorsports . • A Charter guarantees entry into the field of every Sprint Cup Series points race. Qualifying speeds still determine the lineup. • Sprint Cup Series fields will shift from 43 cars to 40 cars. That means 36 Charter teams are guaranteed to make every points race, and four non-Charter (or "open") teams will complete the rest of the field. • Charter owners may transfer their Charter to another team, for one full season, once over the first five years of the agreement. • Charter teams are held to a minimum performance standard. If a Charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings among all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive years, NASCAR has a right to remove the charter. • Teams may sell their Charters on the open market. • Organizations now have a hard cap of four cars; there will be no fifth car for rookie drivers.
Albert: A true win-win in Charter system
RELATED: NASCAR announces landmark new ownership structure If there was ever a perfect anecdote to illustrate how hard NASCAR executives and the alliance of Sprint Cup team owners worked to reach their historic Charter agreement this offseason, it's the one provided by Brian France himself. The NASCAR Chairman and CEO offered a glimpse with his Tuesday remarks, providing visions of working the phones on Christmas Eve against the backdrop of gift wrap, trimmed trees and mulled cider. In addition to pushing through the typically sacrosanct time around the holidays, France also navigated around offseason knee surgery to help broker the deal. But a more evident, powerful visual from both sides came during Tuesday's groundbreaking announcement. When the eight representatives -- four from NASCAR's executive board and four from the team ownership group -- took the stage, each sat intermingled across company ranks. No divisions. When the Race Team Alliance formed in July 2014 with the hopes of providing owners a unified voice and a path to a better financial model, France was among the early skeptics, telling SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he didn't think such a coalition was necessary. A year and a half later and with any battle lines erased, the eight reps sat on stage in harmony -- loose, amiable, and with both sides sharing smiles and the feeling of mutual benefit. "To me, this is the second-most important thing that's ever happened in NASCAR, because now the drivers and owners and stuff now can really work across the aisle," said King Richard Petty, who ranked Tuesday's landmark announcement behind only the meetings that set the foundation for NASCAR's formation in 1947 and '48. "I was telling him a while ago, it's sort of like the Democrats and Republicans, they've been doing their thing, we've been doing our thing, meeting in the middle a little bit. We're getting rid of that. We're all going to be in the middle of the deal now." Based on the newfound collegiality, the Congressional halls in Washington could take a cue from the boardrooms of Charlotte and Daytona Beach. Though both sides had to yield on certain points to reach a compromise, each emerged with a considerable number of positives to create a true win-win scenario from the nine-year agreement. For team owners, the plusses include stability and palpable value for their Charters, an enticing selling point for sponsors. The agreement also provides a share of revenue, which may conceivably help smaller-budget teams reinvest and make modest performance gains on their well-heeled competitors within the Charter system . For NASCAR, the premier stock-car series stands to benefit from seeing its current Charter members thrive, but also in seeing value build for prospective new sponsors and owners. The sanctioning body will retain a firm grasp on its governance of the on-track product, but the newly forged bonds of cooperation and open communication with its team owners should buoy the sport for many years. WATCH: France calls Tuesday a 'historic day in NASCAR' "It's not surprising there were a lot of different opinions, lots of different perspectives expressed during the process," said Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark. "You expect that with the diversity in our sport that we have. There was always an unwavering commitment to a single goal, a single mission. That was to make our sport better and stronger for our fans and partners. That commitment translated into a willingness of everyone involved to pursue and explore a complete paradigm shift in how we operate and to create a much stronger and stable foundation going forward. "If you poll everyone involved in this process, the prevailing sentiment would be the collaborative precedent we set during this process bodes very well for our future." The spirit of collaboration -- with team owners, with tracks in reaching a five-year sanctioning deal last October, and with the drivers' council that was created just last season -- represents a major advancement for NASCAR's brass. It's a reason why France, when asked what his father and predecessor, Bill France Jr., would think about the Charter agreement, politely joked that he'd expect a largely conservative approach. But this isn't your father's NASCAR, or even France's father's NASCAR. That both sides drew inspiration from the ownership models of other professional sports such as the NFL, European soccer and cricket -- cricket! -- rams that point home. NASCAR has long operated under a system with its participants acting as independent contractors. Now team owners can claim a degree of equity for their investment in an expensive sport. "We always have said, because we mean it, that our owners and their success and their viability is very important to us," France said. "That remains true yesterday; it remains true today. But these agreements and this new course that we're on today gives us a chance to really back that up. We get to align our interests in a way we never thought we could. I'm excited about that. We're going to be partners in a different way going forward. I couldn't be more thrilled." France and the team owners may have interrupted their holidays to keep hammering away at negotiations in the face of a hard deadline -- the season-opening Daytona 500 -- looming just several weeks off. The culmination of those efforts made a historic holiday all its own, turning an otherwise ordinary Tuesday in February into a turning point for stock-car racing.