Watch NASCAR’s Next Gen Car Tackle the Bristol Dirt Track

NASCAR returns to the dirt with a new car after last year's pioneering experiment.

NASCAR has been working hard of late to add some spice and zing to the series. Whether it’s new events or new race formats, recent years have seen all manner of experiments attempting to breathe new life into NASCAR. One of the more daring experiments was last year’s dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The series will return there again next weekend, and ahead of the event, the Next Gen car took to the dirt for a test run earlier this week

Doing a quick trial run makes sense given some of the issues that last year’s event turned up. 2021’s visit to Bristol Motor Speedway was the first NASCAR dirt event since 1970, and didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. Much of that was outside of NASCAR’s control, due to surprise flash flooding in the area which delayed racing until Monday. Visibility problems were apparent during qualifying, largely due to the wet conditions, while the race itself contended with some dust problems as the track dried out during running. 

Some changes have been made for 2022, as reported by Perhaps most notably, the banking has been reduced to 16 degrees at the bottom lane, while remaining at 19 degrees at the top of the track. It’s a little shallower than last year, which ran 18 degrees in the bottom lane and 19 up top. The race will also run at night this time in an effort to prevent the track from drying out over the course of the event.  

This will also be the debut for the Next Gen car on dirt. New for 2022, the Next Gen car features independent rear suspension as well as a sequential gearbox, making it a thoroughly modern design compared to the outgoing Gen 6 race cars that the series ran previously. The cars also use wider 18-inch wheels and a significantly different aero package that aims to emphasize the impact of driver skill on racing.

Stewart Friesen, a driver from the NASCAR Truck Series, ran the test so as to not give any of the Cup series drivers a competitive advantage going into the race next week. The Next Gen car ran without a rear diffuser for the test, and other changes were made to the underbody according to The car can be seen to make a lap in around 19.2 seconds in videos released thus far, which compares admirably to the fastest laptimes of around 20.1 seconds from final practice last year.  

The dirt surface promises some exciting racing next week as NASCAR’s finest deftly maneuver and muscle for rank. The mayhem kicks off on Sunday, April 17, with the Food City Dirt Race running under lights once the sun has gone down and the moon has come up. Joey Logano may have won last year’s event, but when the green light flashes and the flags go up, many a driver will yearn for the cup. 

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