If you’re going to have an event to say you’re going to the Daytona 500, you should probably show up for the race. Especially if that event is less than 48 hours before when you’re supposed to be in Daytona.
Obaika Racing held an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday to announce its sponsor for the Daytona 500. The team had a black No. 97 car at the Hall of Fame and proudly displayed the company that was set to be on the car in the team’s attempt to make the Feb. 17 race.
Yet when the Daytona 500 entry list came out Wednesday evening, Obaika Racing’s No. 97 car with driver Tanner Berryhill was nowhere to be found on it. It was a bit odd, but NASCAR entry lists have been amended with late entries before. With haulers heading to Daytona on Thursday evening, there was still time for the team to enter the race.
Obaika’s hauler never made it to Daytona. The team wasn’t in the garage when it opened Friday afternoon and issued a statement saying it wasn’t ready to attempt NASCAR’s biggest race.
“Due to a variety of circumstances, Obaika Racing will not be entering the No. 97 Toyota Camry in the 2019 Daytona 500.
“It is no secret that this is a very small team with limited resources. This is also a very new team to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 97 team has worked very hard through the winter to prepare cars and to secure funding for the 2019 season and things did not come together as quickly as hoped or needed. The odds of making the Daytona 500 did not seem reasonable enough to stretch our resources, so the team feels that our assets can best be put towards a future race.”
The limited resources and new team excuses don’t fly too well in the hours after holding an event to announce your Daytona 500 plans. The size and experience of Obaika Racing was the same on Wednesday as it was on Friday. Yet it strung people along – even NASCAR’s official website – into thinking it was attempting the Daytona 500 and then didn’t show up two days later citing a lack of car preparation. How exceptionally lame.
“It’s extremely important to make the 500, we want to make the 500, we need to make the 500,” team owner Victor Obaika told NASCAR.com. “But, if we don’t make the 500, we’ll still be here.”
“Here” clearly didn’t mean Daytona.
The embarrassment would be limited to Obaika Racing if the team had simply put out a news release announcing its Daytona intentions and then failed to show up to attempt the race. But since the team’s event was at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the series is now tangentially involved. It’s not a good look for NASCAR. And hopefully this mess will be an impetus for the Hall of Fame to add some criteria for teams to meet before the Hall agrees to host an event for the team.
Obaika Racing has made it to the track enough times to make 78 starts in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series since the beginning of 2015. None of those starts have resulted in a top-15 finish. Despite that lack of success, the team moved up to the Cup Series for the final three races of the 2018 season. Berryhill caused two significant cautions at Phoenix in November before finishing 31st.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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