Supply chain shortages have rocked the automotive world this year, and the NASCAR Cup Series has been no exception. As the 2022 season comes into focus, many teams are facing the very real possibility that they may not have enough Next Gen cars to get through the first handful of races.
The latest report comes from Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, though many folks have been speculating about this for a while. Pockrass found that, while most teams intended to have five cars built per car number ahead of the start of the season, many only have two or three. That means that, if one team seriously crashes a few cars during the Busch Clash and the buildup to the Daytona 500, they could very well have no vehicle ready for the next event.
What happened? Well, let Pockrass explain:
As teams discovered handling and heat issues in testing last fall and after NASCAR conducted additional safety tests, NASCAR tweaked several parts and pieces. That delayed the delivery of main components to teams.
Supply issues for vendors — teams must purchase all major parts and pieces (except the engine) from approved vendors, unlike with previous cars that teams manufactured — have also slowed completion. It can take an organization a couple of weeks or more to assemble a car.
The new Next Gen cars were designed to be cheaper and easier to fix than their predecessors in the event of a crash thanks to the inclusion of puzzle-like body panels that click into place and can be easily changed. Unfortunately, frequent tweaks to near everything on the car has resulted in changed components, and with teams relying on outside vendors to supply parts, that means those teams could very well get caught up in the same supply chain issues that are keeping any new car from being built.
NASCAR Vice President John Probst has said that he doesn’t believe these issues will prevent any team from racing in Daytona — but that could be wishful thinking. NASCAR is taking the Cup Series to Los Angeles for an exhibition race in a football stadium before the start of the season, and teams will then head to Daytona for extensive testing before the 500. Any big wrecks during the Clash and testing could very well put a team out of contention.
And even if teams survive, the post-Daytona calendar takes teams right back to the West Coast for three consecutive races. If a team is lacking cars heading into those events, it could easily run out at them — and it’ll be far from NASCAR’s home base of Charlotte, North Carolina, where repairs could be made and new cars could be built.
How it all plays out will remain to be seen, but it wouldn’t be egregious to expect a little bit of disaster to hit the NASCAR Cup Series this year.