Could Hendrick Motorsports shutter one of their teams following the 2020 season?
Lee Spencer (Racinboys.com) was on PRN’s “The Pit Reporters” podcast recently and mentioned that there are some rumblings that Hendrick Motorsports could downsize to only three cars for the 2021 season. Obviously that would be a massive development and a monumental change in the landscape of competitive NASCAR teams.
#88 Goes Away
From what Spencer said, Alex Bowman would move to the #48 car in 2021 with the #88 being put in mothballs for a future season. Logistically it makes the most sense should HMS elect to downsize. Bowman has a contract for 2021, sponsor Ally is committed through the 2023 season. With HMS struggling to find sponsorship for Bowman, logically moving him to the #48 next year makes sense.
Can Hendrick Downsize?
Downsizing for HMS could be an issue on two fronts. The first issue would be with the charter system, the second would be with General Motors and their factory support.
For HMS to downsize they would have to sell one of their charters. Teams have to operate full-time in order to maintain their charter. If HMS shutters a team, that charter will have to be put up for sale. Surely someone will buy it, Gaunt Brothers come to mind. The other issue with that would be expanding to four teams again HMS would have to purchase a charter. Does Rick Ware have a price? We’ll have to find out.
The other issue could be their contract with General Motors. Factory teams are contracted to field a certain number of teams. It’s more cost effective for the team to run 4 cars than to downsize and lose that funding a fourth car brings.
Will HMS Actually Downsize?
It doesn’t seem likely. Bowman to the #48 with Ally makes complete sense but HMS has been a 4-car team since 2002. Even at a time where there is economic uncertainty, HMS will more than likely find a way to make a 4-car team work.
Not to mention Brad Keselowski is available and HMS desperately needs veteran leadership when Jimmie Johnson departs for IndyCar.
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