Saturday, November 6, 2021

Nascar’s Next Gen Car—Facts and Features

Testing has been ramping up lately for Nascar’s “Next Gen” (formerly Gen-7) car, the latest incarnation of the standard stock car, slated to debut in the 2022 season.  With so many changes coming up and so much information coming in, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect in about a year:

—Aerodynamics will, as always, be a major focus of innovation, with changes due to come to the splitter, hood vents, side skirts, and even the debut of a rear diffuser.  There’s a lot to digest, but the long and short of it is this—more downforce should lead to more competitive racing and more passing.  Until Penske and JGR figure out loopholes in the rules and dirty air returns with a vengeance, that is.

Kurt Busch testing a
Next Gen prototype

—Continuing a process started with the “Car of Tomorrow”, the driver will be moved closer to the middle of the car, putting them further from the door and, by extension, further from any contact or damage.  This will continue Nascar’s attempts to protect drivers’ bodies and lives, but be prepared for this small change to somehow infuriate your 65-year-old uncle who claims Nascar died in 2001.

—The manual transmission will move from four gears to six gears, putting Nascar more in-line with touring car series around the world.  Still no automatic transmission, though—probably because, as we all know from Daytona USA, it has a few MPH slower top speed.

—Gas cans will be replaced with gas hoses connected to a tank behind the pit wall.  This should also lead to the “Gas Can Man” on the pit crew getting a new nickname, although “Man with the Hose” might sound awkward.

—And yes, there will be a brand-new type of wheel—three inches bigger in diameter, aluminum instead of steel, and one single lug nut instead of five.  This is the kind of thing that will seem bizarre at first, then become second-nature to fans after the first few races, even as Clint Bowyer hammers home the “challenge” well into mid-season.