• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

‘We’re going to be shy’: Parts shortage clouds Daytona

By MARC LONG

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — NASCAR qualifying races will likely be tamer than normal.

The Duel at Daytona scheduled for Thursday night – a qualifying event that splits 42 cars into two races and sets much of the starting grid for the season opener Daytona 500 – could be a watered down version due to a shortage of parts involving the new Next General Car. The scarcity left the teams with a limited number of backup cars and even fewer on site.

“We can’t destroy this car before 500,” Petty GMS Motorsports driver Erik Jones said.

Jones is not alone in his concern. For months, drivers and teams have lamented a lack of inventory before the first stock car racing event.

Team Penske has built two replacements for its four-car squad, which includes Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, rookie Austin Cindric and Wood Brothers Racing’s Harrison Burton.

“It’s a tough thing,” Blaney said. “Our inventory is not very large at the moment; no one is. … We used to come here with one or two backup cars for each (driver) just in case things happened. Now we’re sitting on a couple for your whole organization. It’s been tough, and you have to have that in the back of your head.

Blaney said he was driving in a practice session on Tuesday and thought, “How much do I push my teammate to see what my car will do and what his car will do without possibly the destroy?”

He expects a similar approach in Duel.

“I think the guys are going to be pretty smart about how they race; you hope so because everyone is kind of sitting in the same boat,” Blaney said. “You have to be aware and observant. But you never want to destroy your 500 car, let alone when we don’t have much to spare.

With 36 teams already locked into the 40-car field based on NASCAR’s charter system, there are six drivers – Greg Biffle, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and JJ Yeley – in contention for the final four. starting places.

Two of them will qualify in the one-lap qualifying races on Wednesday evening. That leaves four drivers vying for the final two spots in those qualifying races – and dozens more trying to keep their cars mostly in one piece.

“I think we’re going to be shy for sure,” Jones said. “There will be a point where we have to race into a Duel, learn more about the car and go from there. be extremely careful there.

NASCAR’s latest iteration of its production car is essentially a kit car. Each team buys most of the same parts from the same suppliers and then has instructions on how to put them together. Body panels and suspension parts were the most sparse, creating angst for teams.

The bottom line: the wholesale changes should result in a more durable and economical car, which could tighten the playing field, at least to some extent.

The Next Gen car debuted at the Clash exhibit two weeks ago at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But it was a short track that included slower speeds and little to no drafting. Daytona will look significantly different, especially since teams have been reluctant to do a lot of bumper-to-bumper drafting in practice and testing.

At least one rider expects to take the same approach in the Duel as in the 500.

“I plan to race,” said Logano, 2015 Daytona 500 winner and 2018 Cup Series champion. I’m going to race. If we crash, so be it, we’ll find a solution.

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