Its become a staple of restrictor plate racing over the past two decades and its next to impossible to get around Daytona’s 2.5 mile superspeedway without a drafting partner or two. Unfortunately for former Daytona 500 Champion, Denny Hamlin, he believes that will create a problem for him and other Toyota drivers during The Daytona 500.
While that might sound like crazy talk, especially with the restrictor plate program’s Toyota has had over the last couple of years, it isn’t when you look at how many Toyota’s are in Sunday’s field. Interestingly enough, there are only 4 Toyota’s competing in The Great American race in 2019, which means they are at a numbers disadvantage.
Whether they are able to overcome that numbers disadvantage remains to be seen and will depend on the speed of The Toyota’s but its definitely going to difficult for them to overcome a Chevrolet or Ford freight train in the closing laps.
Its also going to be hard to find drafting partners, which will most likely cause them to rely on each other to move up the field throughout the race. Then again, maybe if the Toyotas can find a speed advantage by hooking up, it will mean they don’t need the numbers in order to get by.
“The team factor is very important when it comes down to deciding Sunday’s race,” Hamlin told SPEED SPORT. “I think that’s been a lot of the reason that Team Penske and Stewart Haas have had the success that they’ve had at Daytona and Talladega in recent years. Their cars were extremely fast and they just stayed in line together. That’s something that we displayed in 2016 with our Toyota teammates, but we really haven’t been able to replicate that since then.
“Ultimately, the other manufacturers have more cars and there’s more they can do with that. Our five or six cars can stay in line all we want, but if there’s 10 Fords that stay in a line, that’s going to be faster. It’s physics,” Hamlin noted. “Once we put the blueprint out there, it’s just been impossible to repeat because we’ve been outnumbered and everyone else has taken advantage of that.”
Hamlin was then asked about whether this puts Toyota at a disadvantage for Sunday’s Daytona 500 and said that it absolutely did. Again, Whether it turns out actually playing a factor or not remains to be seen, but it will definitely be interesting to watch come Sunday!