Next Gen car changes coming as a result of NASCAR crash test

NASCAR’s Next Gen car will receive new parts and pieces as soon as next month based off data from a crash test at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway conducted on June 30.

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John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of innovation and racing, said the updates to the Next Gen chassis will be primarily made to its front and rear clips – all of which can be retrofit into an existing clip. There will also be changes to suspension parts.

Probst said teams participating in the Nov. 17-18 test on the oval track at Charlotte Motor Speedway will have the updates in place.

“From the on-track, like normal bumping-and-banging with other drivers perspective, (the changes) will have no effect,” Probst said. “As far as crash performance, we feel like it will be an improvement and that’s a lot of the reason why we’re making it.

“With the suspension parts, while they have very little contribution to the actual crash pulse, when they fail there is a tremendous amount of energy that goes through them and we want to make sure they bend rather than break.

“The changes will help ensure when there is a wall impact, the failure mode is more of a bending mode rather than a snapping of it.”

Probst said NASCAR continues to solicit input from an independent panel in the biomechanics/safety field on the development of the Next Gen car.

The panel consists of Dr. James Raddin, who took part in the investigation of the death of the late Dale Earnhardt; Dr. Jeff Crandall, who serves as an engineering consultant to the NFL; Dr. Barry Myers, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University; and Dr. Joel Stitzel, chair of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Chassis is not unsafe

Probst said he remains mystified why rumors persist in the industry that the Next Gen chassis is unsafe.

“I can you when we take a current car’s average crash pulse that we see today, what we ran at Talladega with the new car – even before we made the updates – the results from that are very much what you’d expect from the current car,” Probst said.

“Obviously, we thought we could have communicated quicker with the teams. We’ve talked to the drivers now four times, and as of Thursday of last week, with all of the teams individually. We’ve been to every team in the garage explaining all of it.

“If it persists after that, you’d have to ask them.”

Monday was the first of two days of testing of the Next Gen car on the Charlotte Roval and by 4:30 p.m. ET, 20 teams had been on track. The previous largest number of cars at a Next Gen test was eight.

Probst said Cup teams were issued most of the rule packages for the 2022 season earlier this month

The package for road courses and short tracks – which was in use Monday – will be 670 horsepower with a 4-inch spoiler. For intermediate tracks, the package will be 550 horsepower with an 8-inch spoiler.

The superspeedway package will be finalized following a scheduled Jan. 11-12 organizational test at Daytona International Speedway.

With the road course package, the design of the Next Gen car – including the rear diffuser, 18-inch wheels and softer tires – still produced speeds up to 1.2 seconds faster per lap than in Sunday’s race with the current car.

“So far, so good at what we’ve seen so far,” Probst said. “We’re pretty pleased with what we’ve seen. We have a few guys working through steering (issues) – that’s something that will continue to work with them on.

“This is the first time we’ve had this many cars actually run by the teams at the track. We’re going to find these little things here and there – that’s why we test.”

One issue that came to light from the recent Daytona test was an excessive amount of heat generated inside the cockpit of the Next Gen car for several drivers.

Probst said NASCAR has come up with four different changes it plans to have teams try out to correct the issue during this week’s test.

“While it won’t necessarily be hot today, we’ll be able to quality the effectiveness of those changes,” he said. A final solution should be in place by the time teams return for the Charlotte oval test next month.

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