September 25, 2021

NASCAR tried ‘big swings’ in Daytona Next Gen test

Read Time:8 Minute, 40 Second

On Tuesday and Wednesday, NASCAR and Goodyear held a Next Gen test at Daytona International Speedway with eight teams participating – the most it’s had in any Next Gen car test thus far.

The main goals for the test were to help Goodyear develop a tire to use for the Daytona 500 race week in 2022 and to gauge speeds with the Next Gen car in single and multi-car runs at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

“We made some runs yesterday. We were really close to the speeds we’re looking for, but we only had eight cars in the draft,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing innovation. “We wanted to make sure that we’re conservative coming back here and need to have something in our back pocket should we get here and speeds are too high.

“Overnight we changed the taped spacer and made it smaller, to about 510 horsepower, and reduced the rear spoiler to seven inches. That had the desired effect (Wednesday), we did slow the cars down some.

“The feedback from the drivers was that it wasn’t a radical change from one to the next, so we feel like we now have that data to evaluate coming back here.”

Probst said NASCAR and the participating teams produced “a list of things to work on” after two days at Daytona.

“We have to work on the heat in the car; we have some ideas there. We used (Wednesday) afternoon to try some big swings at things and found some directions to go, so I feel like we made some really big gains there.

“We’ll probably come back here in January and do another test with more teams, it’s an important track for us to get right. We’ll probably have a good number of teams, possibly 26 or more.”

The styling and composition of the new common Dallara-made chassis has allowed the Next Gen cars to better replicate the identities of their showroom counterparts.

The bodies of all three cars are symmetrical with lower greenhouses, shortened deck lids, and the car’s width was widened.

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Here are some comments from participating drivers in the test:

Chris Buescher

“Inside (the car) we’re working on getting some stuff figured out to make it a little more comfortable. The rearview camera is something that is really neat there, learned a lot about it in the runs and the drafting runs there. You can actually see quite a bit more than you’re used to. I used the camera a lot, and the spotter up on the roof to learn where cars are and be able to start getting a gauge of how close they really are. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear, it still applies to the camera, too.

“So, we’re still trying to figure that out. It’s pretty warm, so we’re working on trying to cool it off. We’ve got some different hose configurations, so we’re going through those trying to alleviate some of the heat inside. Aside from that, once you get strapped in, it doesn’t feel a whole lot different than any other race car.

“For us to bring our own car and to really work through a lot of the steering stuff, that was the hard part about the December test, that part’s much better. To the point where it’s a lot more predictable, a lot more driveable. The steering is way quicker than anything I’ve ever driven, so we’re doing our best to slow it down as much as possible. I think we’ve run out of adjustments, unfortunately, so it is quicker than I would have liked. But we’ll work on ways to try to get around that, I don’t know if there is anything. At least now the steering is predictable, feels more like you would expect it to and also a little bit more like our current car.”

Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Nascar Next Gen

Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

William Byron

“I thought it went really well. We got really aggressive there in that second drafting session. I felt like we were all pushing each other to make moves, and everyone was pretty comfortable with it so that was really good to see.

“It’s within a second or two (of current speeds), I don’t know exactly, it feels a little bit slower, you have a little bit more time to think on the speedways. But I like that. I think it kind of lets you think more about the moves.

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

Ross Chastain

“It was pretty uneventful for us, which is a good thing. We had no mechanical failures, no steering issues. We worked through some sweeps on pointing the tires different ways, loading the car with more load on the front springs and tires than the rear, just general setup things. Stuff we don’t know, it’s a totally different car, what makes it tick, what makes it happy.

“The biggest difference day-to-day was the package we went to with the smaller spoiler and lower horsepower. I thought it was worse for maneuverability and us to be able to race, but there was only eight of us so it was tough to build any momentum as it is, I think that would be the case with our current car as well. I think a little bit higher horsepower and bigger spoiler, something to make the hole behind the car in front bigger, I think when the air comes across the

belly pan there’s too much air and the trailing car can’t catch up to a certain extent, not like we can now. Granted, I think if you had 40 cars out there, you’re going to catch up, you’re going to get pushed up there.

“We did some tandem drafting, some guys did more than me, but I did a little bit. Even with the round bumpers, we were all pretty cautious, but it was doable. Now, you go hit them really hard with a round bumper, it’s probably not going to be really good. Stuff we just have to learn.”

Nascar Next Gen cars

Nascar Next Gen cars

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

Cole Custer

“I would say it’s kind of like jumping into the unknown. There’s so many things you don’t know what it’s going to be like. It’s pretty much rethinking the whole way we race. We’re going over things we never would have thought of to go over with our other car. Just a lot of sorting through things. I think it was awesome to get into the draft and see what’s similar and what’s different.”

Austin Dillon

“We made a package change from first day to the second day and I think it was really good for the draft, taking the spoiler down a little bit. Came off the horsepower and I thought the draft looked better. Handling-wise, learning some stuff, still working on the steering, it’s a little quick. But all in all, I think it was a great test. We didn’t wreck any of these cars, which is good. We learned a lot.”

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

Denny Hamlin

“We worked with some different packages to try to make the car suck up and draft. Obviously our number one priority is to put on a great show when we come back. We’re trying to figure out how we can make these cars draft and put on the greatest shows that we worked on for 20+ years with the other car. It’s a learning process. We’re really focused on the heat of the car, trying to get the heat out. Those are our main focuses for the day.

“It’s a race car, it’s got four tires and a steering wheel. So from my standpoint it doesn’t change greatly. But still there are some nuances. Your vision is a little different. The shifting is going to be different, especially when you go into road courses. So you’re going to want to get as many reps as you can to learn that. Any chance that I can get to get in it to be better acclimated, the better off I’ll be.”

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Nascar Next Gen

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

Joey Logano

“It’s like any new car, there’s some low-hanging fruit and some areas to gain, it’s not fully refined like the vehicle we’ve been using for the past 10 years. Over time we’ll get there. But it

takes laps, it takes these race teams a lot of smart people working on it to get there. We’re making gains, getting closer.”

Nascar Next Gen cars

Nascar Next Gen cars

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“A lot of unknowns for us, we got our car three weeks ago and everybody at JTG Daugherty put a lot of hard work into making sure we brought the best piece down here that we could. Everything went according to plan, really didn’t have any major issues. Had a couple little things we worked through, but that’s to be expected on a brand new car.

“Mine drove OK, some seemed to be dancing around a little bit loose. But all in all ours drove really good and felt comfortable. Just trying to figure out how we’re going to make better racing. Making sure that we can pass, get good runs, create good racing. I was really happy, I thought we all did a good job getting out there and working the lanes, working the bottom, top, pushing each other. Really tried to simulate as much as we could a real race and everybody did a good job of that.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen

Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images

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