The Next Gen car will be different for short tracks in 2023 following wind tunnel testing
At the end of the 2021 season, race fans were screaming for more short tracks. They wanted excitement embedded back into the world of stock car racing.
For 2022, NASCAR released the Next Gen car. The spec design drastically changed the sport with a level playing field across all teams on the grid.
With the level playing field, parody was added to the racing product. The number of different 2022 winners set records for the modern era of the sport. Racing on the intermediate tracks was much better.
Yet, the Next Gen car has broken the short tracks, it’s a dud on tracks that aren’t mult-groove. Drivers have noted that the aero dependencies make passing near impossible.
Previously, if a driver made a mistake on a short track, it was an opportunity to pass them. However, with the addition of a 5th gear, drivers were now able to downshift after a mistake. They were able to quickly recover from any loss of momentum, that also hurt the short track package.
Aero and drivetrain, it’s two major issues causing problems on short tracks. And, NASCAR hasn’t ignored the issues. During the off-season, they’re planning to make changes.
NASCAR is currently developing a special stock car entry for Le Mans. In the development of that machine, they discovered aerodynanic adjustments that could fix the car for short tracks…
NASCAR Short Tracks: LA Coliseum, Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Richmond Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
Steve O’Donnell address NASCAR short track issues
“I agree with the fans,” O’Donnell told LaJoie via Stacking Pennies.
“Small body of work, right? We didn’t have that many races [short tracks]. But you take Martinsville, for instance, and the thing that caught my eye – and you heard this from BJ McLeod, a good race car driver, right? But he’s a lap down, and he’s able to hold off the leader, I think, for what, 50 laps, right? Just kind of shifting and getting off the gas. And that’s a problem for us.”
“So if you’ve got a good car and you’re out there and you’re able to pass guys, you should be able to do that. And so we’ve looked at what’s happening in short tracks. You look at the brakes on the road courses, they’re so good. So this car is different for sure.”
“But it presents some challenges on both short tracks and road courses. So we’re looking at a lot of things around the aero. Certainly looking at some things around the tires, but you know that’s going to be our big focus in the offseason is both road courses and short tracks for sure.”
What is NASCAR doing?
“There’s a lot of things we’ve looked at in the wind tunnel that we found on that car that I think we can try for a fairly inexpensive way to go about it, particularly on the short tracks,” O’Donnell said.
“So you’ll see us most likely go test something up in Richmond. But I think there’s gonna be some good things. At least from what we’ve seen already in the wind tunnel and a lot of the sim data, it looks really good in terms of getting rid of some of the challenges as we’ve seen, particularly on the short tracks.”
“And then, ultimately, we’ve got to look at shifting. Do we want to eliminate that? How can we work with the engine builders to improve upon that also?”