How NASCAR’s next-gen car will finally bring ‘stock back into stock car racing’

NASCAR fans have heard it before.

The last time was in 2013 when the industry introduced the Gen-6 model. Before that, it was the car of tomorrow, which Dale Earnhardt Jr. eloquently described as “trash.”

Each time, the company’s course was similar: “We’re putting stock back into stock car racing.”

Are industry officials sure this time around?

NASCAR hopes Next Gen cars will improve racing and safety, while reducing costs

23XI Racing driver Kurt Busch exits the garage during NASCAR Next Gen Car Practice Sessions at Daytona International Speedway on January 12, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida | James Gilbert/Getty Images

The performance of the Next Gen cars was lost in the hype of the massive commercial success of the first Clash at the Coliseum on February 6. For the most part, they helped make the weekend. In other words, NASCAR’s new technology didn’t ruin what turned out to be a true Hollywood ending.

Tyler Reddick may disagree, but most of the teams’ Next Gen cars (or Gen-7 models) have passed their first real tests. Reddick, the leader for 51 laps, suddenly needed help getting his machine to the pit lane. His machine lost power while being watched.

Only three other drivers did not finish due to technical faults. Denny Hamlin suffered power steering issues, Chase Briscoe encountered powertrain issues and Ryan Preece’s faulty oil pressure forced him over the wall.

But, hey, sure future Gen-12 cars will also experience some type of power outage from time to time as well, so for 18 to finish the Clash running, several team leaders heaved a sigh collective relief.

NASCAR officials hope Next Gean cars will improve racing and safety, while cutting costs

NASCAR’s attention quickly shifted from California to Florida. As the Daytona 500 approaches on Feb. 20, crew chiefs will get another top-down look during Speedweeks, which heats up five days early.

NASCAR officials for a few years have been preaching the virtues of Next Gen cars to the masses. The main topics of their sermons included new technology security improvements and cost reduction measures.

Among the significant changes, symmetrical bodies might be the biggest difference maker. That’s if international supply chains follow NASCAR’s demand over the next few weeks as teams try to finalize about five race-ready machines.

Symmetrical bodies will likely aid team leaders in their attempts to use lateral force to generate additional speed. Production cars will compete with a sealed underbody for the first time, reducing the amount of dirty air a trailing car will take in. This decision should help pilots write better.

NASCAR’s New Next Gen Cars Feature Composite Body and Parts

Replacing their sheet metal counterparts, Next Gen cars feature composite bodywork and stronger, yet lighter components. Designed with interlocking composite panels, held together by flanges, race-worn machines should be easier to get back into shape.

The front and rear bumpers also received a facelift. They are now designed to attach to the center sections of cars, helping to speed up repair times.

The industry’s widest tires can now be changed by removing a single lug nut.

NASCAR fans have heard a lot about Next Gen cars. They especially approved of their performance during the Clash at the Colosseum. The Daytona 500 will be the first points test.

Is “Stock Returning to Stock Car Racing?”

At least it’s getting closer.

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