Teams coping with supply chain issues on Next Gen parts

Jared Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Teams coping with supply chain issues on Next Gen parts

NASCAR

Teams coping with supply chain issues on Next Gen parts

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While no one is pushing the panic button about it, there is concern around the NASCAR garage over the supply chain issue for teams getting the necessary parts and pieces to build Next Gen cars.

Richard Childress admitted Tuesday before starting a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway that his organization has two cars for each team. As long as nothing catastrophic happens during the test — which hasn’t for his organization with a few hours left in Wednesday’s session — Childress isn’t worried about his inventory to start the season. Childress expects a third if not fourth car built by the time off the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum next month.

“You’ve always got some concerns, but I think NASCAR is approaching it right from a safety standpoint,” said Childress. “Because we went back after each team test, the crash test, and they’d go back and make changes to make the car safer and better, and I think that’s one reason we kind of got behind. NASCAR’s number one thing is safety with this car.”

NASCAR hopes organizations will have five cars at the start of the season. Teams will be allowed a maximum of seven cars per team for the race season.

“Not many” is what Joey Logano said about the inventory ready at Team Penske. “We’re all in the same boat because all the chassis are allocated through the car number. So everyone should be within the same one to two cars as they come in. I know we just had a couple chassis come in last week that haven’t been assembled yet … but you’re going to have to rotate these cars pretty quickly. The car we’re testing today is going to the Clash. That’s the position we’re in, and I believe that car is also going to Fontana.

“It’s tight. Don’t crash. That’s why I was surprised at how hard we were racing (Tuesday in the draft). It’s like, you know, if we wreck these things, we’re in a bit of trouble.”

Eighteen teams are participating in the Daytona test. Notably absent among the bigger organizations is Stewart-Haas Racing.

“We’re still on track for five cars per team (with) the latest timing we have out of the chassis supplier, and that’s five center sections and seven front and rear clips,” NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation John Probst said. “It’s kind of five plus a little bit. We’re not immune to the world; we’re seeing COVID and supply chains be delayed and some of the distribution being delayed a little bit. I would say right now, we don’t see any parts or pieces that are going to keep any car from racing in an event.

“We’re working with the teams to make sure we implement backup cars in an efficient manner, and I think while we’re concerned and everyone’s concerned, and it’s probably rightly so, it’s what we do — we worry about things like that. We don’t see anything right now that’s going to keep anybody from racing at an event.”

Toyota Racing president David Wilson acknowledged that the sport is facing the same challenges many businesses face with supply chain issues. But Wilson also noted that it needs to be put in perspective how different teams are operating now they are only allotted a certain number of cars. Gone are the days when team owners like Joe Gibbs could look out on the shop floor and see a sea of race cars.

“It’s going to be half of what we’re accustomed to,” said Wilson. “So, I think there’s a magnification effect because it’s so radically different that it causes human nature to have more of a sense of panic.

“I think for the first quarter of the year, it’s going to be a little uncomfortable. We’re going to be micromanaging our inventories. But I think John [Probst] is fundamentally correct in that I think we’ll have enough parts and pieces to go racing, and we’re not going to be in jeopardy.”

One of Wilson’s favorite terms in racing is “healthy anxiety,” and it’s no different concerning Next Gen inventory. Wilson also said it wouldn’t be solved overnight, and a new car puts NASCAR in a new position of supply chain management, and the industry has a lot to learn.

Probst also suggested the issue is another element of learning process with the new car.

“If you look at one of the main goals out of the Next Gen car, it was to change the business model and how we do things,” Probst said. “I would say that, hopefully, one of the silver linings out of this is that a lot of folks will be able to see that we can do this with fewer than six to 12 cars sitting on the floor at any given time, ready to go. So, time will tell. Right now, we’re concerned, but we’re not in a situation where folks are not going to be able to race.”

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