Nearly half of the cars in round two of qualifying spun, during single car runs; Drivers comment on the conditions
The NASCAR Next Gen car made it’s debut just a few weeks ago. However, this weekend, the car is running on the 2-mile intermediate oval of Auto Club Speedway. It’s the first time the car has a seen a track like this in a competitive environment.
With the new car, the drivers requested more power and less downforce. They wanted cars that are hard to drive.
That’s what they got as NASCAR drivers are struggling with the new car. That became highly apparent in Saturday’s qualifying and practice session…
NASCAR drivers spin in practice
Teams were given just a 15 minute practice, just ahead of qualifying. And from the drop of the green, they were spinning.
Kevin Harvick spun on his opening lap off turn four. He backed it into the fence and that ended his practice and qualifying session.
Moments later, Ross Chastain got loose off turn four and slammed the outside wall. He lost his breath after the impact and declined an interview following the crash. At the exact same time, Chris Buescher spun.
In the final laps of group A practice, Christopher Bell added his name to the list with a spin.
Bubba Wallace got loose entering turn two. He clipped the wall with the right rear and slid all the way down the track.
Five cars spun out in practice. And the practice was only 15 minutes long.
“Obviously, these cars are really hard to drive,” Christopher Bell told Fox Sports. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be a ton of fun.
More spin in qualifying
Qualifying directly followed the brief practice session. We saw more of the same…
Aric Almirola was the first car to spin in qualifying. He was able to save it without spinning it all the way around.
The first round of qualifying saw everyone turn a single lap. The top 5 from two qualifying groups were sent into round 2 where they raced for the pole position. Pushing it just a little harder and all chaos broke loose.
Brad Keselowski was the first car to spin off turn two. With flat tires and a low parts inventory, the safety team took extra care to bring the car back without creating more damage.
Moments later, Joey Logano was trending toward the pole position when it all went wrong. He turned it below the apron to shorten the track, as he bounced, the back in stepped out. Logano slammed the wall but completed his lap.
William Byron spun in a near identical way to Joey Logano. However, he was able to keep it out of the wall.
Chase Elliott was the final car of the ten to take the green in round two of qualifying. Just like those before him, Elliott spun off turn four after the frame bottomed out through a bump.
Four of the 10 cars spun in the final round of qualifying.
NASCAR drivers comment on the Next Gen car at Auto Club Speedway
Denny Hamlin stated, “Hard to drive’s ok. It’s just, these things, you can;t get sideways at all. You just don’t have any rear sideforce, you’ll spin out. I think the No. 20 was just doing a pit in there, and spun out. Hopefully y’all got a lot of tv block schedule because I think we’ll need it on Sunday.”
Hamlin added, “As my crew chief says, ‘It’s a war out there.’ These teams are really fighting a lot of stuff. Our shops open 7 days a week. We’re just trying to fight issues that are out of our control. These are the cars we’re dealt.”
Bubba Wallace stated, “I was just trying to find the limit of how far you can drive into the corner. A look at the SMT, I was just a bit further with rollout of the throttle. For young kids, that’s how you keep the car under control. Well, it’s exact opposite in this Next Gen car so it caught me by surprise. Everything felt good on entry, stable. Then, as soon as I got to about a 1/4 throttle out, it stepped out on us. A lot less sideforce than we had last year.”
Brad Keselowski stated, “The cars are hard to drive. They’re suppose to be that way. I think that’s what a lot of the drivers asked for. We got what we wanted.”