The advent of the all-new Next Gen car has sparked a high demand for parts and spares from a supply chain that’s been damaged globally by the health pandemic and other outside factors.
NASCAR’s recent decision – made in agreement with its three OEMs Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota – to switch from a 550bhp package at intermediate tracks to 670bhp motors has added further demand to the already-stretched engine builders and their specialised suppliers.
Toyota is the least represented manufacturer on the NASCAR grid, with only six cars in the full-season field to Chevrolet’s and Ford’s 15 each. Toyota Racing President David Wilson says he’s not angling for teams to switch allegiance just yet but is monitoring the situation across NASCAR’s Cup garage as the 2022 Cup season kicks off with next weekend’s Daytona 500.
When asked by Autosport if he was recruiting teams, Wilson replied: “Not actively – we’re happy to add a second car to 23XI Racing with Kurt Busch this year, that’s going to be really important and valuable.
“Our general strategy has been very discriminating, taking quality over quantity, but with this new car, by and large, we would be interested in broadening our footprint in the garage and have a more proportional market share.
“We’re always very intentional, because adding cars just doesn’t help, it runs the risk of spreading our resource too thin. In spite of perception, we have a fixed amount of resource, so there’s the double-edged sword as you add cars you can’t get too thin.
“So next year, year after, given the right partners and right opportunities, we’d love to add another organisation.”
Kurt Busch, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry Monster Energy and Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry DoorDash
Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
In terms of timing, Wilson is aware of the benefits of a lean operation can have in terms of getting the latest developments out to his cars – especially with a likely engine specification freeze coming at some point later this year.
“In terms of supply chain, and getting product developed and to market quicker, that’s always easier with a smaller group – absolutely,” he said. “But, given the right opportunity, we’d love to see some growth.”
The downside of having fewer cars is highlighted in superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega, where the lack of manufacturer-friendly drafting partners can impact results. However, Denny Hamlin’s spectacular record of three Daytona 500 wins in five years has bucked that theory.
“If you look at our superspeedway results and we’ve punched above our weight over the past few years,” said Wilson. “The irony is we’ve kinda taught the industry about how to go about winning the Daytona 500.
“Denny Hamlin’s win in 2016 was with five [Toyota] cars. Speedway racing has never been the same since. But that’s the beauty of sport, finding that little edge on strategy and getting a little head start, knowing that the others can’t catch up.”