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Denny Hamlin: 23XI Racing has invested more into NASCAR lately than SMI

The driver-owner's frustrations stem from the charter negotiations

Over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin explained how frustrations over the current stalemate in revenue sharing negotiations between the teams and NASCAR factored into a social media spat with Marcus Smith.

Specifically, Hamlin said freshly repaved Sonoma Raceway coming apart was a precursor to what could happen at North Wilkesboro Speedway and a general reflection of how Speedway Motorsports reinvests broadcast rights revenue back into the sport.

It’s a more dynamic agreement than this, but the overly simplified version of NASCAR’s broadcast rights agreement is that teams get 25 percent, tracks get 65 percent and NASCAR gets 10 percent. A new broadcast rights revenue sharing agreement is being negotiated but is currently in a contentious standstill.

The exact percentage of broadcast revenue money for teams is slightly higher than the 25 percent when factoring in purse money but Hamlin believes Speedway Motorsports does not appropriately invest into its tracks.

He also says that his 23XI Racing team that he co-owns with Michael Jordan has invested more capital into the sport than Speedway Motorsports has over the past decade.

“It’s frustrating because we know that they’re taking a bulk and whenever we go to an SMI track, they’re taking the bulk of the money from the TV revenue,” Hamlin said on his podcast on Monday. “And I know personally how much that I’ve invested in 23XI. I would venture to guarantee you that 23XI has invested more in this sport than SMI has invested in the last 10 years. And we’ve done it in four years. Just this one team has invested more in this sport. So, there’s a problem there. Especially when we get roughly you know half of what they get on any given weekend.”

Hamlin says he has had conversations with Smith where exactly how much revenue they receive gets brought up and that the track owner isn’t willing to even broadly share that number. He says Smith won’t divulge that number due to how much it is and that he believes Smith doesn’t spend an appropriate amount on its facilities and racing surfaces.

“My frustration with SMI is I don’t feel like that investment’s really been made on their part and surely you can combat that with well they did the ROVAL [at Charlotte Motor Speedway] — OK, I think the ROVAL has been played out for a few years. I think everyone in the industry and probably fans would rather have us back on the oval at this point,” Hamlin said. “It was because the oval racing was so stagnant, so they took it upon themselves to do the ROVAL. You can say that they brought back North Wilkesboro — COVID brought back North Wilkesboro. They used COVID funds. They got a bunch of money from the government to do that. So, they always owned North Wilkesboro, but they finally put the investment back in it.

“That was good to see and I’m sure there’s more to the story for sure. We could probably list off a bunch of things that they’ve done in a positive manner. They redid Atlanta. But I look at these tracks and I say, well let’s look at the last three or four paving jobs that SMI has done. And they’ve had to put patches on the track before we even had our racecars on it.

“Clearly, you’ve got different contractors doing the paving at Sonoma and Marcus said this, ‘Well, we’ve got different pavers at Sonoma than we did at North Wilkesboro. I didn’t even know North Wilkesboro had a problem.’ And so, I’m like, ‘Well, that might be your problem because you don’t have any communication with your people.’ Yes, it did have problems and it probably will in the future.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter. 

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