Garage Strategy at Darlington

Different teams — and manufacturers — will use different garage strategies for Darlington in terms of who they’re bringing to take care of the car.

Yesterday, I looked at who’s not coming to this Sunday’s Darlington race because of the coronavirus rules. Today, let’s look at who is coming and see if there’s any garage strategy in that. The data is, again, thanks to the work of Bob Pockrass

Here’s a visual representation of which team is bringing which crew members.

A visual representation of which car number is bringing which people to Darlington

As noted yesterday, most teams are bringing tire specialists, but precious few are bringing shock specialists. There’s a split between who’s bringing engineers vs. mechanics — or both.

Trends by Team and Manufacturer

It’s helpful to break garage strategy out by team and manufacturer. Note: I didn’t include teams that run more than one manufacturer for the season.

Summarizing the garage strategy choices by team and manufacturer

You can see from this chart that there are some clear differences in garage strategy:

  • Chevy is the only manufacturer bringing any utility persons.
  • Ford and Chevy will each have one shock specialist on site
  • Toyota isn’t bringing any engineers.
  • All the HMS teams and CGR teams are bringing an engineer.

Finally, let’s look at how many people per car each manufacturer will have on site.

A column chart showing the number of people in each position per car by manufacturer
  • Toyota cars have gone heavy with mechanics at the expense of engineers — perhaps because they can communicate electronically with the engineers at home, but they want mechanics available if something fails?
  • Chevy is the only manufacturer that isn’t bringing a tire specialist for every team.

What will be most interesting to watch on Sunday (I can’t believe I’m finally saying that!) will be whether lack of expertise in any area affects the race. We all remember the left tire/right tire screw up last year that killed Martin Truex, Jr.’s chances at the championship.

You probably also remember the race where practice and qualifying were rained out and a part on Martin Truex, Jr.’s car broke at the very start of the race. That’s when having mechanics will be important.

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