The ongoing tire shortage remains a major issue within short track racing.
While some tracks have had to cancel their weekly events, others have made changes to pre-race procedures to maintain a healthy supply of tires for race weekends.
The CARS Tour has likewise been unable to avoid the short-term impacts of the shortage but owner Jack McNelly is doing everything possible to help out teams until the problems with Hoosier are resolved.
“There’s not much we can do right now,” McNelly said. “Hoosier has notified us that they will continue to supply the series tires but only a limited number. Going forward, teams will only be able to purchase one set of practice tires and one set of race tires. That is it.”
With most of Hoosier’s issues being attributed to supply not meeting demand, McNelly knew that he had to act fast on addressing the tire shortage ahead of the race at Caraway Speedway on May 22 so that there would not be any disruptions to the CARS Tour schedule.
Along with limiting the amount of tires available for purchase, McNelly added that teams will not be able to buy an additional set for practice if they decide to acquire tires for testing before any race weekend.
Brandon Pierce, who has been competing full-time with the CARS Tour since 2018, agrees with the series’ decision to temporarily ration tires as he and the other teams adjust to the shortage.
“Everybody is kind of experiencing the same thing,” Pierce said. “We’re all very fortunate here with the CARS Tour. Jack has enforced what we’re going to do and that’s going to allow us to keep racing. It’s unfortunate but the alternative is not racing at all.”
Former CARS Tour champion Deac McCaskill also believes that limiting tires will help strengthen the inventory even though he infrequently buys practice sets for his family-owned operation.
While McCaskill is confident that he can remain competitive, he does not expect inexperienced teams and drivers who rely on practice laps for knowledge to be as fortunate.
“With the young kids that are coming into this series, they have to buy three or four sets a weekend,” McCaskill said. “I think those are the teams that are going to end up getting hurt by this.”
McNelly understands the disappointment that younger drivers might have about reduced track time but said that everyone is going to be treated equally through the shortage.
“We are a developmental series,” McNelly said. “We have older drivers but we also have some younger ones. They need as much time on the track as they can get to hone their skills. For the time being, that’s going to be very limited.”
McNelly added that he has seen some within the industry raise concerns about the availability of certain parts. Despite this, McNelly does not envision a parts shortage becoming a major issue, as he has not been approached by any CARS Tour teams who have struggled to make purchases.
Pierce said that a limited number of parts and tires will require him to put extra emphasis on patience over the next few months as he attempts to claim his second CARS Tour victory with Pulliam.
“You have to take care of your equipment,” Pierce said. “That falls into my hands and we have to manage the tire situation the best we can. You have to be strategic with how many laps you run in practice and how hard you go. It’s a little difficult but the good news is that it’s the same for everybody.”
McNelly does not know when the tire shortage will come to an end but he considers himself grateful that the CARS Tour is not currently in a position where they will have to suspend the season.
“I have every reason to believe that Hoosier will see that we can continue to operate with limitations,” McNelly said. “I feel very strongly that if we police these limitations, the summer will be safe for us.”
The summer stretch for the CARS Tour begins on Saturday evening with the VisitHampton.com 125 at Langley Speedway, where teams will look to gain momentum with only a handful of tires at their disposal.