Mark Zaleski / For The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK
There was a reason for concern when NASCAR’s NextGen cars took part in testing last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but this week’s testing saw the narratives change significantly.
What caused this change? Let’s dive into the details.
NASCAR likely switches to 670 horsepower package
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell said Friday morning that the sport’s highest level of racing is more than likely to run the Set of 670 horses on all tracks on the 2022 calendar, with the exception of the superspeedway races.
This is a significant improvement to the package after it was announced that NASCAR would use the 550 horsepower package on intermediate tracks, which was not well received by many drivers and fans.
The potential change comes after concerns about the performance of the NextGen car last month in Charlotte. There were many issues, such as speed and the ability to pass through dirty air.
Many riders, such as Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, have expressed their displeasure with the 550 horsepower package on record. Busch called him “accordion race“while Harvick discussed his reasoning for NASCAR increase the power.
Even NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson called the group of 550 horses after the race at Michigan International Speedway saying they barely got to race because of the forfeit.
There is universal support for the idea of ââincreasing potency and it is necessary. The 550 horsepower package simply created boring races that few people enjoyed in the stands or from their homes.
Drivers love packages on the last day of testing
As noted above, the riders have shown their dissatisfaction with the 550 horsepower package, but some riders have shown newly grounded support after testing ended on Friday afternoon.
On Friday, NASCAR was testing three packages:
- Configuration 1: 670 horsepower and six-inch offset spoiler
- Configuration 2: 670 horsepower and six-inch center spoiler
- Configuration 3: 670 hp and four-inch center spoiler
The first configuration recorded the fastest speeds with six of the 18 drivers with times less than 30 seconds while the third configuration recorded slower speeds with a driver in the less than 30 seconds. However, the reasons are clear.
The four-inch spoiler creates a throttle-free time, which can be seen firsthand on this on board with Brad Keselowski. More idling time will tend to create slower times, but the product of the run will increase.
That’s why Keselowski and his former teammate Joey Logano came to love what they saw with the 670 horsepower and the four-inch spoiler. Keselowski called the race similar to a 2005 NASCAR Cup Series car or in other words, the Gen-4 car.
Logano said that the four inch spoiler was the best of the group and mentioned how tire drop and strategy might come into play. Tire drop has been a concern in the past due to the lack of drop on some intermediate tracks.
Based on unofficial times, it was found that William Byron suffered a drop of six to seven tenths in the span of 10 laps and about a second in 15 laps. It’s definitely an improvement over the last few seasons at Charlotte.
Other pilots like Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Daniel Suarez have all praises the NextGen car and how different it is from last year’s car. Overall, the NextGen car is harder to drive and drivers love it.
What the future holds for NASCAR with the NextGen car
There was a time when the NextGen car had significant concerns and in these tests there was a lot to be done about the performance of the car. Fortunately, it looks like NASCAR found the packages to make the car run smoothly.
The overtaking looked a lot better than the previous test and last year’s car. There was more idling time on a 1.5 mile track with falling tires, which is a major improvement over 2020 and 2021.
Also, the possible demise of the 550 horsepower group is a good thing due to the drag and weight of the NextGen car. All of these facts make the car even more appealing to builders and potential owners looking to enter the NASCAR Cup Series.
It would be an understatement to say that the new car has sparked enthusiasm for the future of NASCAR. There are a lot of expectations that are set on this car and there is no reason that they cannot be met with more upgrades.
Friday created significant optimism with the NextGen car and it will only increase from then on.