NASCAR’s Next Generation Car Tackles Daytona For the First Time12/17/2020
NASCAR uncovered “nothing surprising” during the latest round of testing for the next-generation Cup Series car on Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
The test was designed to provide data for superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, but NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation John Probst, said the two-day session could pay dividends elsewhere as well.
Back on track for Day 2 with the #NextGen pic.twitter.com/0rnplfaG0d
“I think some of the stuff we found in the car is very promising for some of the other tracks we’re going to take it to,” Probst said. “So, if anything, we may try to get on a local track up in the Charlotte area for a couple hours to verify what we found here translates to some other track types.
“Right now, we’re working with the (manufacturers) and with the teams to establish what our testing schedule will look like next year. We will be working with Goodyear to do a couple more tests with the car, but it will be coming out of the development phase and we’ll be focusing primarily on the tires. We’ll probably do three or four tire tests in the first half of next year for Goodyear.”
This was the first time a Next-Gen car had turned laps at a superspeedway and its driver over the past two days was Chris Buescher of Roush-Fenway Racing. The specific car was the Prototype 3built by Roush Fenway Racing – one of two prototypes that currently exist for R&D purposes.
Time to hit the track at @[email protected]ris_Buescher takes us for a ride in the #NextGen car around the World Center of Racing. pic.twitter.com/8JHMZbVbws
One recorded lap time (in the tweet above) was 48.66 seconds, which is roughly 185 mph, so roughly 10 mph slower than the pole for the 2020 Daytona 500.
The current car, which has a Chevrolet engine, hasn’t been optimized for competition and its body is a generic shell. The current manufacturers are expected to submit its individual bodies to NASCAR later in the year.
Beneath the body, the new car features independent rear suspension — a departure from the classic solid axle rear suspension. The car has 18” wheels and lower profile tires with a single-lug assembly.
It features a sequential shifter, apparently 6-speed instead of the 5-speed initially tested, instead of the traditional H pattern.
The car is also completely symmetrical.
“Daytona was an important test for us because when we come back here in 2022, we have to make sure we hit the speed targets that we’re looking for,” Probst said. “We came here with one car; obviously we would like to come here with 15 or 20, but we just don’t have that many right now.
“So, we played with a lot of horsepower levels and drag levels to hit our target speed, which we were able to do pretty easily. We did that early in day one. Then spent the rest of the test trying some new things on steering and also doing some ride-height sweeps just to get some sensitivities in the car to ride height.”
The Daytona test was the eighth time the car has been tested over the past 15 months.
It was most recently on-track on Nov. 17 and Nov. 19 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and oval, respectively. Prior to that, Cole Custer drove it at Dover International Speedway on Aug. 24-25. Before that, William Byron turned laps on March 2-3 at Auto Club, Erik Jones at Homestead Miami on Jan. 15-16, Dec. 9-10 (2019) at Phoenix with Joey Logano and Oct. 8-9 (2019) with Austin Dillon at Richmond.
The tests at Charlotte were the first time NASCAR placed two prototypes on the track together. The other prototype was built by the Action Express IMSA team.
This was the first time Buescher has had the opportunity to drive the Next-Gen car.
“For starters, the speed, we went through a lot of different changes to try to dial in what we know and get closer on what we don’t know,” Buescher said. “To try to have a competitive race and still do it within a reasonable speed.
“Just worked through a couple little nuance things that are just a lot different, and honestly it’s a little bit of just mind over matter as far as shifting, trying to make sure you keep pulling backwards for the sequential stuff, which was really neat.
“I really enjoyed using it and got better as it went, learning what it can and can’t do there by the end. The brakes are terrific, and I know this isn’t even a short-track set-up, but they stop extremely well. There’s not going to be any issues getting to pit road and not having the stopping power, just going to be a matter of not spinning out.
“Obviously Daytona single-car is not the most fun kind of testing, but a lot was learned. I’m glad I did it. Even if it’s as little as going back and looking at the car we have at Roush, that we’ve been working on and sitting in, and trying to figure out what we feel like is the right thing to do from my input where the pedals and stuff need to be. Definitely a good test for me. I’m glad I got to drive the thing before we start testing late next year, I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
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