The NASCAR dirt race could look very different this time around
Earlier in the week, the NASCAR Next Gen car made an appearance on the Bristol Dirt Track. The test was conducted by NASCAR in advance of next week’s NASCAR Cup Series race. The race marks the first dirt race for the NASCAR Next Gen car.
Stewart Friesen was selected as the driver for the test. He was selected not to give any advantage as Friesen is absent from the entry list for the Cup event. However, he did run last year’s race.
The banking of the track itself has changed from last year. However, the biggest change is the introduction of the Next Gen car. And NASCAR is working out several variations of the possible product.
For example, the rear defuser was removed. The entire underbody of the car was also modified. Additionally, they also ran tests without the windshield.
It’s extremely rare for dirt race cars to have windshields. In reality, it doesn’t exist.
Windshields on a dirt track don’t work due to changing track conditions. Specifically in the early part of an event. The track is wet, covered in mud. Over hours of laps, mud transforms to dry slick. However, mud is an issue for windshield.
Dirt racers across the country have fixed this issue with rear-offs. A pack of tear-offs are installed directly on the driver helmets, instead of the windshield itself. When the visor becomes covered in mud, drivers can reach up, pull off a tear-off and they’ll have clear vision until it pulls off again. This can be done over and over.
Last year, the opening laps of the NASCAR Truck Series race on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track were a bit of a mess. With a wet track, it only took a few laps for the windshields to become completely covered.
NASCAR reacted by throwing a caution. Crews were allowed to bring the cars to the pit lane and clean the windshields.
As for next week’s test, it remains unclear what package NASCAR will go with. However, the driver from the test as detailed how the test went…
Related: NASCAR Dirt Race – Dirty windshields halt race (Video)
Stewart Friesen talks the NASCAR Next Gen test at Bristol
“We had a really good test, working with all the different teams,” Stewart Friesen told Bob Pockrass.
“It was a really cool experience. I think we learned a lot and it will translate to a better race.”
“We got the car a little bit more forgiving. So, I could get it bent and kinda get it back without it spiking and spinning out.”
“The first test we did at Lancaster was kind of a fact finding mission. I mean, the Lancaster test was tough, becuase it was so cold. A lot of different tires we threw at it. So, Goodyear came with a pretty good tire yesterday.”
“We did a lot of different stuff. Had Nick Hoffman there with his UMP Modified. We were able to sling some mud at it and use some tear-offs.”
“It was different. I’m not sure what NASCAR will do with all that information.”
Related: The 2021 Bristol Dirt Race was put to a vote; The alternatives were too expensive, forcing a NASCAR dirt track
NASCAR took out the windshield for the test
“We went a couple different way. With the window duct taped, not taped. It was a little bit better, not taped, there was a little more airflow threw the cockpit.”
“When we took the windshield out, there was a lot more airflow through the cockpit. That was pretty cool. It was more like an open wheel car, you know, a modified. I enjoyed that.”
“Pulled a couple tear-offs, covered it in mud. It was perfect track conditions, we had the track crew till up the bottom, water it then got out there and spun some mud up.”
“There’s a lot of smart people at NASCAR that will dissect all of that and come up with a good package. We tried some mudflaps stuff that I thought worked really well.”
“We were able to test a couple different grill openings. We’ll see what they do with it.”
“It was definitely a little bit faster. The track was just in really good shape. It was overcast, the track was wet so we had a lot of grip to start the day. The sun did come out later in the day, it did dry up so we got a lot of variations of the track.”
Friesen added, “With the race being at night time, that’s going to help the race tremendously.”
Related: NASCAR Next Gen – Bristol Dirt Track Test (Video)