NASCAR: How is the Next Gen Car Performing?

It’s safe to say that NASCAR’s new Next Gen car has not favored one organization more than another through the first four races of the 2022 season, making NASCAR odds even less predictable.

So far, the car has been run on a high-banked superspeedway at Daytona, a couple of intermediate tracks at Fontana and Las Vegas and a short track in Phoenix. According to most teams and drivers, the car has performed as expected.

Driver Concerns with a New Car

Kurt Busch recently commented that the car has been a pleasant surprise so far and that drivers are getting more comfortable and less anxious when preparing for a race.

There has not been a complete runaway race yet. The drivers may be just more cautious in the new cars as they adjust to its nuances, but proponents of the car say it’s because the cars perform better and allow the racers to drive their cars more to their skill level, whereas the last generation car sometimes drove itself in higher-speed races or in pack racing.

The drivers and teams are becoming less concerned about the safety of the new cars with every hard crash. Ross Chastain had a very hard crash at Fontana, but the race team reported the car crumpled where it was supposed to and protected the driver as expected as Chastain suffered no injuries.

Keep All Four Wheels on the Pavement

Harrison Burton’s car flipped at Daytona and NASCAR is continuing to study that crash in particular. His car was hit four times and was going at less of a speed when it got airborne than other cars in the same accident. The car is supposed to be less susceptible to flipping with the new design, but during that crash at more than 180 mph on a superspeedway like Daytona, even the safest of cars can get overturned. Fortunately, in this crash at high speed, no other car left the ground and safely slid as expected when involved in a crash of this magnitude.

Leg Numbness

Some drivers have also commented on struggling with leg numbness during the race. The pedals in the Next Gen car are mounted on the floor instead of hanging down from under the lower dash. Four races in, this issue seems to be resolving itself as drivers find the right distance from the seat to the pedals and the best angle of the seat to avoid any circulation problems during the long races.

Adjustments to New Tires and Wheels

The new wheels and tires are also something for the teams to adjust to for the season. The former generations of cars have had a five-lug nut system, just like most passenger vehicles on the road. This year, the Next Gen car features a one-lug nut system with a large center lug nut and an 18” aluminum wheel opposed to the previous steel wheels. NASCAR is investigating the issue of wheels coming off in-race, which has happened in three of the four races so far. The race teams claim to be having trouble telling if the lug nut is tight enough on the wheel.

Drivers are also having problems with getting their cars to pit lane when they do experience a flat tire during the race. As the tire is a lower-profile model and the wheel is larger, there is no room for an inner liner to the tire, which assists drivers in getting to pit lane safely.

Overall, the Next Gen car is doing what it was designed to do. Seeing four different winners after four races, with younger drivers performing well so far has brought new life to the Cup Series for fans, driver,s and teams.



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