CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR is set to unveil a new race car in 2022, a year later than the originally scheduled 2021 debut after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
The car is being called the NexGen car, short for Next Generation and it will mark the end of NASCAR race cars using technologies that originated in the 1960s.
Right now the car is in the late development and testing stages, with much of the chassis design done with the testing to find out how the parts and pieces work best together.
NASCAR has held several tests already but this week two cars took to the Roval at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and for the very first time it was open to the media
There’s still a lot to learn before the NexGen car hits the track and a full season of racing the current car before that happens but already the car is getting pretty good reviews by Cup Series test drivers, who this week are Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch.
“I would say that speed-wise with less horsepower, we’re actually faster as fast as we were with the current,” said Truex, after several practice runs.
“The car accelerates quicker, it stops quicker, it turns quicker, it’s nimble,” said Busch, of his experience in the car.
Visually the car already looks different, sporting a mostly generic body with the actual manufacturer designed bodies reported to be approved by NASCAR but not yet revealed.
By ear, the car sports a sound that is distinct and unique, with a right and left side tailpipe tuned to a sporty ground that Truex says he really likes.
“It sounds cool. I mean, I don’t know what it sounds like from up in the grandstands but in the pits, I feel like it sounds pretty good and I think it sounds really, you know, kind of cool and bad-ass when you’re driving it. It’s kind of throaty deep sound,” said Truex.
It’s more of what you can’t see that makes the NexGen car new, and different. New suspension all around, independent rear suspension, lots of ways to tune and adjust handling, bigger brakes, bigger wheels, lower-profile tires and a new transmission. All things that every driver will have to adjust to when the car hits the track.
“With a sequential gearbox, that’s the most fun, I love shifting through the gears, sequentially, you know, you’ve got to go second, third, fourth, fifth, and then you’ve got to go back fourth, third, second. It’s not your typical H pattern that we’ve had,” said Busch.
“I do have to keep reminding myself that I have it though, because one, upshift downshift when I’m supposed to up would be the end of the test here. You know, I’ve literally driven an H pattern since I was a kid and I keep having to remind myself to just make sure I pull the right direction, so that’s been fun and I haven’t screwed that up yet, knock on wood, hopefully, I don’t,” said Truex.
As for the actual test, the engineers and mechanics are throwing a lot at it. They’re testing tire combinations, suspension adjustments, you name it, it’s being tried; sometimes good, sometimes not so much.
“But now we did make a few changes on one of the runs that I was like, whoa, this thing’s out of control. Don’t do that again. There’s definitely going to be a huge learning curve. I mean, there’s so many differences about the way these cars are built,” said Truex.
“Overall, first impression is fun, it’s exciting and different,” said Busch.
Busch and Truex say they’re excited about the continued development of the car and can’t wait to see it on the track in competition.
For now, more practice and testing to come. They’re testing on the Charlotte Oval on Wednesday.
“You know, I think Wednesday is going to be the real test to see what I think of it and to see how it feels on a fast oval. I think it’s going to be a real eye-opener,” said Truex.