Next-Gen NASCAR Cup Racer Delayed Until 2022
Four-speed now, four-speed forever!
The technologically advanced, next-gen NASCAR Cup racer intended to drag the series out of the dark ages will not debut next year as originally planned. With the sport's 2020 season largely delayed and broken up to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like all other forms of racing, the sanctioning body made the decision and resulting announcement Thursday afternoon.
“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the next-gen car will be delayed until 2022,” said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation, in an official 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.”
Packing a six-speed sequential transmission, independent rear suspension, and single-lug wheels—among other updates—the next-gen NASCAR Cup machine was intended to start a new era in 2021. Its development thus far has laid the groundwork for advancements in aerodynamics and even hybrid technology; a steep departure from the relatively brash V8s and four-speed manual gearboxes that currently rule the stock car racing roost. Even the traditional steel bodies are set to be replaced with carbon fiber shells, albeit a year later now.
The next-gen car has been tested a handful of times by NASCAR drivers Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Joey Logano and, most recently, William Byron. From three-quarter-mile short ovals to two-mile speedways, it's been put through its paces to determine what needs tweaking before making its racing debut. The updated aero package has been a major focus to this point as technicians and engineers hope to develop a round of regulations that promote better racing than the draft-dependent cars of today.
“It’s not about what drives the best, what’s the easiest to drive…we don’t want that,” mentioned Logano after testing the car at Richmond. “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."
“We’re still in the preliminary stages, but we definitely have some cool pieces to the car.”
NASCAR initially planned to make its return to racing at Martinsville Speedway during the weekend of May 8-9, though the state of Virginia has a stay-at-home order effective through June 10. As a result, it's possible that NASCAR will join IndyCar and Formula 1 in being delayed until June at the very soonest.
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