LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — The Race Team Alliance is not only open for business, the ownership clique is ready for new members.
RTA chairman Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, said teams outside of the inaugural nine that formed together have expressed interest in joining and want to collaborate on initiatives and issues facing NASCAR.
Kauffman said teams that have attempted to qualify in 95 percent of the 72 Sprint Cup races over the last two years would be eligible to join the RTA.
That means owners like Harry Scott, Tommy Baldwin and Tad Geschickter could join heavyweights like Roger Penske, Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush.
"I found it a little funny somebody said, 'We weren't included day one,'" Kauffman said Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "I guess you start something and people are bummed out they're not in it, that's probably a sign of popularity. I thought that was a little funny.
"I think the second sentence of the press release said one of our top priorities is to reach out to the other teams," he added. "Well, two days is kind of short, even for someone from New York."
The RTA currently includes Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
"I was surprised how much consensus there was, how quickly," Kauffman said. "Like a lot of other sports, even though all the teams compete on the weekend, their businesses are very, very similar, their issues are very, very similar, the way they think about stuff, their risks, their revenues, their expenses. There's a lot of common interest."
He said the RTA is nonprofit, and there are bylaws and dues. It has retained international law firm Jones Day as counsel. Board meetings? Well, the owners are easy to find, each Sunday at the track before the Sprint Cup race.
The owners started talking in early June and the RTA was formally introduced on Monday. Kauffman said the owners did give NASCAR officials an early heads up a group was on the horizon.
"It is new, we haven't done much, we're just being transparent about what we're trying to do," he said.
He declined to say what NASCAR Chairman Brian France and President Mike Helton said in their first conversations about the RTA. Helton said on Friday there is no animosity from the governing body toward the group. He downplayed the immediate significance of the new faction, saying NASCAR will "continue to do business the way we've done business."
But the lag time from Monday's announcement to NASCAR's first comment on Friday led to speculation the stock series was unhappy with the alliance.