NASCAR’s Next Gen car gets a workout in Phoenix
Only the second on-track test for the new car
Joey Logano’s offseason can now begin. Logano spent Monday and Tuesday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix testing NASCAR’s next generation racecar. The Penske Racing driver and 2018 Cup champion spent the two days with the prototype which is making just its second on-track appearance.
Tuesday before taking to the 1-mile track, Logano gave his first impressions of the car expected to debut in 2021.
“We started running through different tires and different aero packages and tried different things to see what would make the best racing,” Logano said. “It’s not about what drives the best, what’s the easiest to drive… we don’t want that. We want something that’s challenging that will show that the best driver and the best team will prevail.”
NASCAR official are trying out different tires, setups and spoilers in order to change the aerodynamics.
“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,” Logano said. “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 prototype was built by Richard Childress Racing, which continues to play a leading role in the car’s development. Delegations from Team Penske — including Todd Gordon, Logano’s crew chief — and NASCAR’s competition wing are in Phoenix for this week’s test, observing and assisting in making changes to the vehicle.
The car is the same test mule that RCR’s Austin Dillon drove in a two-day test Oct. 8-9 at Richmond Raceway.
“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 said the biggest differences between the current Cup cars are primarily in the brakes.
“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.”
NASCAR has not announced future testing for the new car, but we do know where that will be.
“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,” said Probst. “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.”