CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The curtain rose, the smoke billowed, and three NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars made a dramatic, roaring entrance onto the show flooring on the unveil.
The first impression was apparent. When reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott drove the Chevrolet Camaro, Joey Logano the Ford Mustang and Denny Hamlin the Toyota Camry roughly 30 yards within the Wednesday afternoon unveiling of the much-anticipated Next Gen automotive, essentially the most putting facet was how a lot the brand new race cars resembled their manufacturing counterparts — and the way simple it was to distinguish the brand new autos from each other.
“This is a significant moment for our sport,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps stated throughout his introduction of the Next Gen cars. “This car is more relevant and includes more innovation than any car in NASCAR history. The styling of the car is clear. I mean, they look unbelievable. Just so incredible to finally be here.
“We actually wished to get again to a promise that we had made to the followers, which is to place the ‘inventory’ again in ‘inventory automotive.’ That was one thing extraordinarily vital to us and our followers. But simply as vital to our followers is the racing on the race observe. It’s exhausting to consider that the racing could possibly be any stronger than it’s final 12 months and the primary 11 races this 12 months, however this automotive has options that can make it even higher.
“Simply put, this car will make our sport healthier and stronger. It’s an exciting day for our industry and our fans, and I’m proud of all the work that went into bringing us to today.”
Based on information gleaned from simulations and from restricted testing of small numbers of Next Gen autos, NASCAR expects the brand new race automotive to be more difficult to drive and extra thrilling to race. As Elliott put it, it is a clear slate for the most effective inventory automotive drivers on the planet.
“I’m excited about the product that we came up with and a lot of collaboration with all of our key partners at Chevrolet within the NASCAR teams to have a product that looks as good as it does and is much like the car and the Camaro you can go buy at your Chevrolet dealership, too,” Elliott stated. “Excited about that.
“Selfishly, as a driver, I’m excited concerning the problem. I believe it’ll be powerful. There’s going to be issues with this automotive I have not seen as a race automotive driver but. Until you get on observe and work via it, it’ll be powerful. I’m trying ahead to all of the issues that come with that, making an attempt to reinvent your self as a driver to see what it’s a must to do to be good.”
Fans in attendance at the unveiling were greeted with a race car that exhibits a lower roof line; a longer, sleeker hood area; a smaller, racier rear deck lid area; and more effectively protected wheels that feature a single central lug instead of the five lug studs currently in use.
Hidden from view are additional features that bring the Next Gen car closer to modern production vehicles.
“The automotive itself, to start with as an engineer, racer, I really like all the things beneath it which you’ll be able to’t see as we speak,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “The new structure shifting it ahead, making it extra trendy — the unbiased rear suspension, the (rack-and-pinion) steering system, the driveline, the chance for energy practice developments as our world adjustments for future energy trains — that is all constructed into this. We’re actually enthusiastic about that.
“The biggest thing is what you can see today and what the fans will see on the track. As a racing fan, I can’t wait to see 40 of these out on track. It’s the body, what we are able to do by coming up with new proportions for it. This screams ‘Mustang’ to me, just the proportions of the car. With the low roof, the long hood, the short deck — those are Mustang proportions. That jumps out immediately.”
The debut of the Next Gen automotive was initially slated for 2021 however was delayed for a 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even although the automotive will not race competitively till Speedweeks at Daytona in February 2022, it already has had an influence on attracting new possession to NASCAR’s premier collection.
“I think you’ve heard it from the likes of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin with 23XI Racing,” Phelps stated. “We’ve heard it from Trackhouse Racing from Justin Marks and Pitbull, and from Live Fast Racing with Matt Tifft and B.J. McLeod. There’s an eagerness for ownership to come to this sport. I think this car and the importance of this car, what it represents, is at the heart of what that would be.”
Hamlin affirmed Phelps’ assertion, noting that the prospect of simultaneous growth of the Next Gen automotive by definition fosters parity between organizations.
“It’s an attractive time to come into the sport, obviously,” stated Hamlin, a who partnered with Jordan this 12 months to discipline cars for Bubba Wallace. “This was a big factor in our decisions, will be part of our decisions going forward.
“We have a reset in expertise and assets which might be going to be going into this automotive. We’re not at a 20- to 30-year drawback by coming into the game. We’ll all be creating it on the identical time in its early existence.”
The Next Gen automotive, nevertheless, is just not but a fait accompli. There’s testing to be performed with giant numbers of cars on the observe, with a watch towards analyzing the aerodynamic points of a number of cars racing collectively. There are choices nonetheless to be made about such very important racing points as horsepower and spoiler measurement.
“We have tests coming up in August (that) will be the first time that we’ll look at Daytona with multiple cars on the track,” stated Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR government vice chairman and chief racing growth officer. “And then as you fast-forward towards the end of the season — October, I believe — we’ll have both the (Charlotte) Roval and the oval with multiple cars on the track from each of the race teams.
“And then following that up post-Phoenix (in November), we’ll dial that in with the race groups as properly, with a variety of cars out on the observe. Don’t have something concrete but for Daytona round that January timeframe, however these might be what might be in place in direction of the tip of this 12 months, with a number of cars on the market.”
Reid Spencer writes for the NASCAR Wire Service.