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Speaking at NASCAR’s Daytona 500 media day on Wednesday, Blaney explained that a lack of spare parts due to the new Next Gen cars has more than halved the team’s usual roster of backup machinery available.
Given Daytona’s reputation for potential huge, multi-car wrecks, Blaney thinks that those drivers who are already locked into Sunday’s 500 will bear in mind that they can’t afford to wreck their primary cars.
“We have a couple for the four of us,” said Blaney of the backups available to Penske. “It is a tough thing. Our inventory is not very big currently – no one’s is. It’s been difficult to get parts and pieces, honestly, for the teams to kind of put full things together.
“We used to come down here with one or two backups for each [car] just in case things happened and now we’re sitting on a couple for your whole organization, so that’s been difficult. You have to have that in the back of your head.
“From practice last night, ‘OK, how hard do I push my teammate to see what my car will do and what his car will do without possibly wrecking him?’ And the Duels tomorrow night it’s gonna be the same thing.
“I feel like guys are gonna be pretty smart on how they race. You would hope so because everyone is kind of sitting in the same boat. But, at the same time, you have teams that need to get in the 500 too that are gonna be racing pretty hard at the end of the Duels to try to get in, so you just have to be aware and observant.
“But you don’t ever want to wreck your 500 car, let alone when we don’t have many things to spare.”
However, teammate Logano gave the opposite response when asked how he will approach the races, despite the paucity of equipment available, as there are points on the line in the races.
“I can’t speak for the whole field on what they are thinking but I don’t see myself racing any different in the Duel than I will in the 500,” he said. “I am planning to go race.
“I think as soon as you get scared of crashing and those type of things you are never going to win. So, I am going to go race and if we crash, so be it, we will figure it out.
“I feel like going out there to race to win and try to get those points. There are still points out there to try to get. It is one step at a time.”
Logano also queried the design of the bumpers on the Next Gen cars: “I don’t know why we put round bumpers on a race car but we did. It is like pushing two marbles against each other. It really can upset the cars.
“The Duels are typically a little more tame and it is usually not that crazy. But there have been crashes in them before and I think with the new car… with the round bumper it could cause more crashes.
“At the same time you may have some drivers and teams that are telling them to chill out because we don’t have a whole bunch of inventory. I don’t really know exactly how the Duels are going to look. All I can control is what I am going to do.”