Joey Logano wrestles 'challenging' next-gen NASCAR Cup car during Phoenix test12/10/2019
Joey Logano turned laps around Phoenix in a baseline model of NASCAR’s next-generation car.
It’s still early in the testing cycle, but the next-generation NASCAR Cup Series car continues to inspire optimism following its second physical test on Monday and Tuesday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona.
Following the initial test in October at Richmond Raceway with Austin Dillon behind the wheel, Joey Logano took his turn driving the prototype of a car that will make its debut during Daytona Speedweeks in 2021.
The car is expected to have a built-in adaptability that allows for numerous aerodynamic configurations, depending on track types. NASCAR sent Logano out with different spoiler lengths, tire compounds and setups on Tuesday.
While only taking single-car runs, Logano believes the car could be challenging to drive and also capable of delivering close-quarters racing.
“It’s not about what drives the best, what’s the easiest to drive … we don’t want that,” Logano said. “We want something that’s challenging that will show that the best driver and the best team will prevail. … So, we’re trying things on different extremes—a lot of downforce, and then little downforce and then figure out what’s going to make the best racing.
“And then you go from there to make the next step, bring some more cars. We’re still in the preliminary stages, but we definitely have some cool pieces to the car.”
The current Cup Series rules package has been designed as a bridge to the next-generation race car since it will include independent rear suspension, high downforce and, eventually, a new engine formula that tops out at 550 hp.
The next-generation car will also feature an 18-inch, lower-profile tire instead of the current traditional 15-inch version. In theory, a wider and lower profile tire could provide more mechanical grip to offset the aerodynamic grip that dominates the current package.
The car will also feature a single-supplier spec chassis and composite body.
The prototype is one of two cars developed by NASCAR with assistance from Richard Childress Racing. That team has often been utilized as an R&D partner due to its historical significance and its large campus in Welcome, North Carolina.
The sanctioning body is satisfied thus far as well.
“We had a really good test at Richmond and then said, ‘How can we make the car better?’ ” said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation. “We came up with 60-plus things we could do to the car. Not all of the things could be implemented into the car we have now, but some of them are in the design phase. We effectively updated a lot of the aerodynamics on the car.”
Logano concluded that the next-gen car has a bigger brake package and a novel steering feel from the status quo.
He also said it was hard to dive at Phoenix.
“When the car gets loose with this next-gen car, it doesn’t come back until the driver steers the car back—it doesn’t fix itself. And that puts it more in the driver’s hands. And I like that piece,” Logano said. “It’s going to be challenging, but I think you’ll see more mistakes on the racetrack, which makes, in my opinion, better racing and more passing opportunities. The tire is completely different, and the body isn’t close to the same. So, your natural reactions are wrong. And you have to be able to adapt quick when you feel something instead of trying to let the car fix itself.”
Following a test at .75-mile Richmond and 1-mile Phoenix, the car will next be taken to intermediate Homestead-Miami for its most vital test.
“Phoenix is a logical progression from Richmond,” Probst said. “A lot of the testing we needed to do before we head to a track like Homestead—which is where we’re headed next—wasn’t completed at Richmond. For us, it was a really good progression from Richmond loads and speeds, and now we’re creeping the speeds up to start really testing out a lot of the mechanical parts and pieces on the car.”
The Cup Series championship race from Homestead last month drew criticism in contrast to its higher horsepower, lower downforce Xfinity Series counterpart. The high downforce, low horsepower formula has been compared to driving a shifter kart, crate engine racing or, at worst, “this isn’t racing.”
Drivers currently race nearly full-throttle on the largest downforce tracks on the schedule, only lifting when they run into the turbulence generated by the new 8-inch spoilers. The formula, while making for the occasionally more entertaining intermediate track race, has undeniably hurt shorter tracks and road courses due to the inability to overcome that same dirty air.
NASCAR and its race teams continue to work towards moving back to a lower downforce package for the short tracks and road courses for 2020—with the new car following that adaptability.
The car is expected to be delivered to teams in July and NASCAR president Steve Phelps expects it to be immediately capable of generating revenue for chartered teams.
“I think reasons to go to this new car, one is to take what is great racing, will be great racing in 2020, to create better racing. I think this new car will do that …
“The last component of that is to try to make sure that the costs associated with the car are not such that they just continue to escalate on that car. Whether we are going to have a cost cap moving forward, I don’t know. It is not an easy thing to do. We want to make sure that we have competitive racing. When the race starts, we want as many folks and drivers to win that race as they can.
“Lots of work to do on what we would do, whether we would have a cost cap or not. But it is something that we continue to work with our race teams on to make sure that we are having competitive race teams and race teams that are profitable.”
Source: Read Full Article