Why NASCAR changed body shapes for 2023

Denny Hamlin says Toyota was at a massive disadvantage during the 2022 season after the rules changed

For 2022, NASCAR introduced the NASCAR Next Gen car. The game changing design made all cars identical, from team to team.

However, there are slight variations between all three manufactures. This gives those manufactures individual identity.

All three submitted their body shapes to NASCAR ahead of the launch. Drag and downforce numbers had to fit within a small box so one manufacture wouldn’t have an advantage on the track.

When those designs were complete, NASCAR began testing the machines. That’s when they discovered issues with heat and packages. Just ahead of the season, the package changed and holes were cut into the windshield to create cockpit ventilation.

According to Hamlin, these changes really hurt Toyota.

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Denny Hamlin talks 2023 NASCAR body shape changes

“All the manufactures had to submit a car for their body build. And it had to fall in a box. Now, that box is suppose to be really really tight,” Denny Hamlin stated via his Actions Detrimental podcast.

“They submitted them before we started cutting holes in windshields and fixing the driver heat issues from last year. So, when we started testing, NASCAR made a lot of adjustments to the car.”

“What happened was the Toyotas body took a s— when that happened. We were in the box and we were close with Ford and Chevy. For whatever reason, when they cut the spoiler down — We built our body around a bigger spoiler.”

“When NASCAR changed the rule, a month before the season. It was an ‘Oh s—!’ We lost a ton of speed at these tests.”

“In the spring of last year, they retested. The Toyota was far outside the box, on downforce. Not to the good, at all. The Ford, had the most downforce. They had to make adjustments to their nose, to get them back in the box. Chevy was a very good mix of both.”

“NASCAR said, ‘We admit you guys are off. We’ll allow you to make an adjustment for next year. But, we’re going to need everyone to re-submit.”

“This year, they are all back in the box. Am I going to pretend that we are the best? No, we are still not the best. The Chevy still has an advantage on the drag and downforce levels but it’s a lot smaller than it was. Ford, they’re drag numbers have been reduced. The Fords and Toyotas are very similar.”

Hamlin added, “The competition will be a little better this year.”

Toyotas went to victory lane in 8 races during the 2022 season.

“We were at a huge disadvantage last year. It’s amazing we won as many races with the deficit that we had.”

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Denny Hamlin | Toyota Racing | 23XI Racing | NASCAR