The Next Gen Nascar
When NASCAR racing began in 1949, what is now known as the Cup Series was referred to as the “Strictly Stock” division — stock cars ready to race right off the showroom floor. A lot has changed since then, and the cars used at NASCAR’s highest level have gone from strictly stock car to strictly race car. But with their seventh-generation Cup car, NASCAR is both making a major leap back towards the days when stock cars were stock and forward into new possibilities as to what they can be.
The 2022 season marks the first for NASCAR’s new Next Gen car, which replaces the Gen 6 used from 2013 to 2021 as the car and chassis raced in the Cup Series. The Next Gen platform, which has been developed over the past several years as well as an extensive schedule of winter testing, gives NASCAR’s three automakers a car that is more faithful and relevant to their street equivalents, while also giving NASCAR a machine that can both enhance the level of on-track competition and allow for more cutting-edge and relevant technology.
The Next Gen car made its debut in competition at the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where it was put through its paces around the Coliseum’s tight and demanding quarter-mile track. Here is an overview of the Next Gen car as it gets set to make its first official start in a points-paying race.
How does the Next Gen car look?
While the exact characteristics of the Next Gen car all vary slightly by make — the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the Ford Mustang, and the Toyota TRD Camry — the overall common aesthetic is that of a sleeker and more coupe look. The car features a shorter greenhouse, shortened deck lid, and widened track width, as well as 18″ forged aluminum wheels and wider tires. The wheels will also feature a single lug-nut design, as opposed to the traditional five lug-nut design of previous generations.
What are the Next Gen car’s components?
The Next Gen car features upgraded specs to match modern passenger vehicle technology, including an independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, and larger brakes. The transmission and rear gear of the car has been combined into one package through a new transaxle, which will also help allow for the ability to incorporate electrification into the car in the future.
The car also allows for an in-car camera in every vehicle, and overall upgraded car connectivity will allow for more real-time data to be transmitted to fans.
The redesigned chassis of the car features new front and rear bumpers, which allow for increased safety. In addition, the front and rear clips of the car bolt onto the center section, which will allow for easier serviceability and damage repair. This was seen during a test of the car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as Richard Childress Racing was able to repair a car crashed by Austin Dillon and have it back on-track the very same day.
The Next Gen car also features several components that aim to reduce aerodynamic forces and the impact of “dirty air” — or turbulent air trailing from a car that impedes the handling and progress of cars running behind it. The bottom of the car is sealed with an underwing and rear diffuser, while louvers in the hood of the car allow for engine performance to be maximized, independent of aerodynamics. In theory, this should allow for better handling and raceability in traffic.
How is the Next Gen car built?
With NASCAR seeking to implement a new business model to make stock car racing more affordable and accessible, the Next Gen car represents a major shift in how NASCAR Cup Series cars are assembled and maintained. Rather than manufacturing parts and pieces themselves, NASCAR teams will now purchase parts for the Next Gen car from single sources such as Five Star Race Car Bodies, Dallara, McLaren, and others.
How much horsepower and downforce does the car have?
After several years of hotly-contested debate over which direction NASCAR should take, the Next Gen car will feature a high-horsepower and low-downforce aerodynamic package that has proven popular among fans and competitors. The Next Gen car will have an engine output of 670 horsepower at most racetracks, with a four-inch spoiler on the rear decklid. While NASCAR had experimented with lower horsepower in recent years as a means of potentially attracting new OEMs into the sport to join Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota, NASCAR Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell stated in December that 670 horsepower was “within the range” to attract another automaker to the sport.
A different package will be used at the superspeedways of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway as well as the newly-reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway, as NASCAR will utilize 510 horsepower and a seven-inch rear spoiler in the interests of keeping speeds from rising too high while also offering a compelling superspeedway racing product.