USA Today posted an article yesterday quoting Team Penske president Tim Cindric said as saying that the Ford-powered NASCAR Sprint Cup team will eventually have to double from its current two-car teams to four to match the dominant Toyota and Chevrolet teams — Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports respectively.
Until then, Cindric said, the organization will not be regarded as an “elite team,” and in present day NASCAR, it’s true. NASCAR allows any organization to run up to four full-time cars, and a fifth part time as Hendrick Motorsports did in 2015 to get Chase Elliott seat time before taking over for Jeff Gordon in 2016.
But to have the best/fullest success in the top tier NASCAR National Series, it takes a race shop at the full capacity and Team Penske is right in acknowledging that. While Joe Gibbs Racing celebrating its fair share of success as three car team, the addition of Carl Edwards in 2015 only helped them grow.
Look at the behemoth of the sport — Hendrick Motorsports. They’re fully built out at four cars and one could argue they’re even bigger and successful by providing engines to the other four-car Chevrolet team, Stewart-Haas Racing, and to a much lesser extent, providing engines to teams like the two-car shop of HScott Motorsports.
Even on the most basic level, HMS gets a minimum of ten data points for each race weekend. All the simulation in the world cannot match actual race conditions.
Joe Gibbs Racing, just going to four cars this season seems to recognize this. With the other Toyota Racing Development-backed team, Michael Waltrip Racing closing its door after the season, JGR and TRD will be in part adding a fifth satellite team (partnership) with Furniture Row Racing coming over to Toyota for 2016. In just two short NASCAR season, JGR themselves goes from three race weekends to data points to five.
It’s worth noting that JGR and MWR shared some information, but didn’t have the same data sharing level that Hendrick Motorsports does with SHR.
So yes, Team Penske, while in the past years has been able to successfully and consistently compete week in and week out, to keep that trend up, they’ll need more cars in the race every week.
The continuing problem for every team — big or small is sponsorship. Penske originally had planned in 2016 to field a third car for Ryan Blaney, but it was revealed that a lack of sponsorship has delayed that plan.
But peg that as a setback. Penske Racing will continue to be the dominate Ford manufacturer on the Sprint Cup racetracks and once the sponsorship deals fall into place, they’ll jump at doubling their race shop teams and personnel, following in HMS and JGR’s footsteps.
Source: USA Today: Team Penske president: We will eventually have to field four cars