John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of innovation and racing, said the updates to the Next Gen chassis that will be introduced to the Cup Series in 2022 will be primarily made to its front and rear clips – all of which can be retrofitted into an existing clip. There will also be changes to suspension parts.
Probst said teams participating in the 17-18 November test on the Charlotte oval track 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 a four-member independent panel in the fields of biomechanics and safety on the development of the Next Gen car.
He added that he remains mystified about persisting rumours that the Next Gen chassis is unsafe.
“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.
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Nascar Next Gen
Photo by: James Gilbert / Getty Images
“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, with 20 teams running 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 four-inch spoiler. For intermediate tracks, the package will be 550 horsepower with an eight-inch spoiler.
The superspeedway package will be finalised following a scheduled 11-12 January test at Daytona.
With the road course package, the Next Gen car – including the rear diffuser, 18-inch wheels and softer tyres – produced speeds up to 1.2 seconds faster per lap on Monday than in Sunday’s race with the current car.
“So far, so good at what we’ve seen so far,” Probst said.
“We have a few guys working through steering [issues] – that’s something that will continue to work with them on.
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske Ford
Photo by: NASCAR Media
“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 arose 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 quantity 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.