Matt Stone Racing has secured its place on the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship grid, confirming the purchase of a Racing Entitlements Contract.
Stone has confirmed to Supercars.com that his squad has bought a REC from Kelly Racing, which is downsizing from four to two entries as part of a switch to Ford Mustangs.
A REC is required to enter a full-time car in the championship and also represents an equity stake in the Supercars business.
After seven years in the Dunlop Super2 Series, MSR joined the main game in 2018, leasing a REC owned by Jason Bright under a two-year term.
MSR’s deal to buy the Kelly REC has gone through ahead of this Friday’s 2020 REC entry deadline.
“We leased a REC for two years to put our toe in the water in Supercars and make sure that, for our team, it’s the place to be,” Stone told Supercars.com.
“Now coming to the end of that term, we know this is the landscape our business wants to compete in, so the next step for us is to control our own destiny and own a REC.”
Stone, pictured with father Jimmy, during MSR's debut as a full-time main game team in 2018
Under Supercars rules, RECs can only be leased for two years before they must either be sold or moved on.
Although yet to be confirmed, Bright’s REC is expected to land at Brad Jones Racing for a mooted expansion to four cars.
Charlie Schwerkolt is meanwhile thought the likely purchaser of Kelly Racing’s other spare REC, to grow his Team 18 operation to two cars.
Tekno Autosports is also in the REC market, having confirmed it will double its effort to two cars as part of its move to Sydney.
Garry Rogers Motorsport is meanwhile yet to confirm if it will continue next season or look to offload its two RECs.
While the Kelly REC purchase locks in MSR’s lead entry, Stone is also looking at expanding to two cars, should a planned split-driver model get off the ground.
As outlined on Wednesday, the prospect of permitting two young drivers to share a car throughout the season, including pairing up in the enduros, is currently the subject of debate.
“We’re definitely looking at the viability of a two-car program and if we’re running a second car, having it as a ‘Supercars Lites’ style program,” Stone affirmed.
“There’s obviously a bit of controversy around that and if we were to expand to two it would be in that capacity.
“But the priority for us was to get one REC locked away so we could carry on business as usual.
“Should we decide that we’re going to venture into a two-car operation, we’ve either got to get one of the active RECs this week, or tender for one of the ones on the shelf post the REC deadline.”
MSR is yet to confirm its main driver for next season, with Todd Hazlwood set to depart the team, and current BJR man Tim Slade in the frame for the ride.
Friday’s entry deadline is only for RECs, with no requirement for teams to lock-in their driver or sponsor line-ups.