Not many of us are fortunate enough to have spare race cars stored out back in case something happens to our primary machine.
Then again, not many of us are NASCAR drivers.
This week’s build-up to Monday’s Daytona 500 (that’s NZT) has been plagued by one serious issue for each team – there are not enough spare parts.
NASCAR teams were meant to have five cars built in time for the 2022 season. But that figure seems more like a fanciful dream for many teams right now. Most have rocked up to Daytona Speedway with only two or three cars in the hauler.
Some don’t have a backup at all.
It’s a problem NASCAR is aware of, and they’ve even said this year’s Daytona 500-winning car will break the tradition of being kept at the speedway for the whole year.
Instead, it will be returned to the winning team the next day as a potential backup for the rest of the season.
The lack of spare parts has several teams and drivers worried.
“It’s a stressful position to be in,” Auston Dillon told The Athletic. “In past years, I have gone ‘man, this car is not good, and if we wrecked it, maybe the backup is better.’
“That’s not the case this year as the backup is sitting in North Carolina.”
The shortage of spares isn’t a solely NASCAR issue. There’s an ongoing global pandemic, and the manufacturing of the series’ seventh-generation car has been affected by supply chain delays.
Unfortunately, it could lead to one of the more boring 500s in recent years.
Let’s be honest; a large part of NASCAR’s appeal is the massive whole-field pileups. The ones where cars skew every which way, some flip, and there’s even the odd fireball.
And I’m sure some people also enjoy the constant side-by-side pack racing action.
But several teams have signalled some hesitancy when it comes to this weekend. A crash in practice or qualifying would have seen their chances to start the race dashed. Crash in tomorrow’s race and necessary parts could take weeks to come in.
Defending 500 winner Michael McDowell said everyone will be weighing up risk vs reward come race day.
But this is also the biggest race on the NASCAR calendar.
“We don’t have a lot of inventory [for the next two races],” he said. “At the same time, this is the Daytona 500, and you want to be prepared as you can to win the race.”