Rick Hendrick says Race Team Alliance, NASCAR deal could be near

Hendrick did not proffer any specifics about what an arrangement between NASCAR and the owners would look like. But he did confirm that talks are ongoing.

“I hope it takes place before the end of this year,” said Hendrick after breaking ground on the new 45,000-square-foot Axalta Customer Experience Center, which is being built on the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, N.C.

Hendrick said Rob Kauffman, the president of the Race Team Alliance, a group of team owners, and NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France were among those talking.

Brett Jewkes, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief communications officer, said NASCAR was having discussions with all the team owners.

“We’re having great dialogue with all the owners,” Jewkes told FOXSports.com. “It is way too early to comment on any specifics or a timetable.”

Asked if he thought something could happen this year, Hendrick said, “I hope so. I want to applaud (NASCAR chairman and CEO) Brian France and NASCAR and (RTA president and Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner) Rob Kauffman and all of the teams, all of the guys that have worked together.

“Because I’ll tell you, one of the most important parts of this deal is when the team owners got together, and our CFOs started looking at how much we were spending, what we were spending, how could we do it cheaper? Whether it’s insurance, airplanes.”

Kauffman declined comment on what Hendrick said.

NASCAR team owners now face a dilemma: If they lose their sponsorships, all they have left are a race shop, which may be owned or leased, and cars, parts and machines that might be worth 10 cents on the dollar. When a race team closes, the owner faces a potential loss of millions of dollars that he or she has invested in the team.

Hendrick said creating lasting value for teams would be a positive for all sides, although he didn’t spell out how such a plan would work.

“I think it’s going to be good for the sport,” said Hendrick. “I think it’s going to be good for NASCAR. I think it’s going to help bring new owners in, because if you’ve got something that makes your team worth something and you want to retire, you can sell it or give it to someone else. It’s going to help new ownership. . . . It brings value. People will pay for value, you know? They’d have a guaranteed starting spot and an income stream.”

Asked at the end of the interview if this could happen in the 2015 calendar year, Hendrick said, “I hope so. There’s no reason for me to say that other than we’re working, and I would hope that we have it in place, but if we don’t, I think it will be early in ’16.”