NASCAR Drivers Are Treating the Next Gen Machines Like Bumper Cars: Suarez

Rubbing is racing, but this might be a step too far.
Fox Broadcast via YouTube

There’s a lot to love about NASCAR’s Next Gen cars, especially if you like watching them turn left and right. They’ve got independent rear suspension, five-speed transaxles, and composite bodywork that’s way different than the old steel structures they used for decades. That’s well and good for crash protection, but Cup Series winner Daniel Suarez thinks it’s causing drivers to get too comfortable bashing into each other.

Retaliation hits have been part of NASCAR racing forever. Suarez himself experienced one at the hands of Ryan Blaney after Sunday’s running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earlier that day, during the final overtime restart, Suarez was hit from behind and spun Blaney out while they were still very much in the running. He later found himself at the other end of a spin once the checkered flag flew.

This prompted Suarez to elaborate a couple of days later, as Insider points out. During Tuesday’s episode of NASCAR Race Hub on Fox, the No. 99 Chevy Camaro driver said, “This car is tougher. This car, you can hit a wall a little bit and you’re fine. You can hit another guy and you’re fine.”

“The previous car, you had to worry about the left-rear having a rub [and going flat] or situations like that,” Suarez continued. “I feel like these cars can take so much that there are a lot of drivers that are taking advantage of that in the wrong way.”

Suarez also drew the comparison to IndyCar drivers who take more caution because their cars can’t handle an impact without suffering critical damage.

Denny Hamlin, the ever-outspoken driver and team owner, already spoke on this earlier in the season. According to him, aggression is at a higher level in 2022.

“The newer, younger generation that came in, it just seems like they are more aggressive,” Hamlin said. “Now, more aggressive is fine, but I think it’s just, you could talk about a much bigger subject here of, like, just the lack of respect that people have for each other nowadays. All you have to do is log on Twitter to find that.”

Hamlin then added a key distinction between this car and the old one:

“I think in the past, what happened is, you got wrecked or knocked out of the way, you’d get your front teeth knocked out,” Hamlin said. “Nowadays, crew members protect their guys, and it’s very corporate, very different sport than what it used to be. So these young guys feel like—and it’s not always young guys, us old veterans, we make our mistakes too—but they’re just more aggressive in thinking that, ‘Hey, the risk is worth the reward because the reward is winning. The risk is, eh, I might get a little backlash here and there, and I might have to worry about that guy wrecking me in the future.’ But people just think it’s worth it nowadays.”

So while nobody wants to get hit at high speeds just because these cars are more forgiving, they maybe don’t mind hitting others as much. Pair that with inflated emotions and you’re destined for a flare-up every once in a while.

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