NASCAR Delays Next-generation Stock Car Until 2022
On Thursday, NASCAR announced the planned debut of the next-generation stock car is being pushed back until 2022. The new breed was originally expected to take the field at next year’s Daytona 500, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly made that impossible.
“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022,” John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, said in a statement. “The decision was made in collaboration with the OEMs and team owners. We will continue to develop the Next Gen car, and a revised testing timeline will be shared when more information is available.”
While the new cars have seen some light testing already, they’re incurring a huge number of changes that require more R&D time before anybody feels comfortable putting them on a track for an actual competition. There’s just too much left to contend with. In addition to the totally redesigned bodywork, next-gen vehicles are supposed to boast fresh aerodynamics, larger brakes, 18-inch center-locking lug wheels, independent rear suspensions and modern hybrid powertrains. NASCAR is even swapping the traditional four-speed manual for a sequential transmission.
Some of those changes sparked criticism from fans who said they muddle what NASCAR is all about (and remove some of the challenge for drivers and their crews). Shrewdly, the sanctioning body slipped in a mention of the car’s current progress to assuage those fears. But we never pegged “professional racing driver” as a stress-free assignment and presume most people who’ve spent a prolonged period of time inside an active track car would feel the same.
“It’s not about what drives the best, what’s the easiest to drive … we don’t want that,” NASCAR Cup driver Joey Logano said after doing some preliminary testing at Richmond Raceway. “We want something that’s challenging that will show that the best driver and the best team will prevail … So we’re trying things on different extremes.”
NASCAR hasn’t offered any updates on when the car will ultimately make its racing debut. For now, we’re operating under the assumption that the delay will least at least one full year.
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