3 Invisible Ways the New 2022 NASCAR Cup Cars Are Different From the Old Cars

NASCAR‘s Cup Series Race Car is all new for the 2022 season, and many fans are still getting used to the ins and outs of its systems. The all-new 2022 Cup Car looks very different racing around the track, but some of the most dramatic changes are invisible. These changes include an innovative frame, new ways for air to flow around the car, and improved suspension.

The 2022 NASCAR cars have a modular frame

A red prototype NASCAR Next Gen race car completing tests ahead of the 2022 Cup season.
NASCAR Next Gen test car | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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You may not be able to see the modular frames 2022 NASCAR cars are built around when they are racing, but the Animagraffs animation at the end of this article shows this feature well. One of NASCARS main goals with its Cup Car redesign was to make racing more competitive. One way it did this was reducing the overall cost of building an racing a Cup Car.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Car frames are split into three distinct sections: a roll cage around the driver, a front clip, and a rear clip. The front and rear sections detach with only a few bolts. This not only makes it possible to repair a badly crashed car, but teams have already completely extensive repairs fast enough to get a smashed car back in the race.

This modular design will also make it fairly easy for NASCAR and manufacturers to engineer a front or rear clip with an electric engine fo the upcoming hybrid NASCAR cars.

The Next Generation NASCAR cars create downforce in an all-new way

Red stock car racing down a track, a blurry wall visible in the background.
NASCAR Next Gen test car | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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One major change for the 2022 season is that NASCAR teams will run the same cars at the superspeedways, the short tracks, and the road courses. Gone are the asymetrical, aerodynamic bodies of the special tri-oval cars.

To accomplish this, NASCAR and the manufacturers had to pioneer new methods of creating downforce. The new cup cars leverage a transaxle and independent rear suspension to make room for a car-length underwing. This new aerodynamic element rapidly evacuates air from beneath the stock car, creating downforce.

The new Cup Cars also have hood-top vents to eject air and force it over the top of the car’s body, creating more downforce.

You obviously can’t see how air flows around the Next Gen cars during a race. But the Animagraphs video does a great job showing how low-pressure and high-pressure airflow around the new NASCAR car.

The new NASCAR Cup Cars are more ‘stock’ than the old cars

Nascar stock car completing practice laps on a race track, grass visible in the background.
NASCAR Next Gen test car | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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The narrator of the Animagraphs video mentions that the new Cup Cars are more “stock” than the outgoing NASCAR race cars. You may wonder what they mean by this.

Once upon a time, NASCAR teams bought, modified, and raced commercially available or “stock” cars. Today, they custom build race cars, and the OEMs build V8 engines. While the latest Next Gen cars are still a far cry from a stock Mustang, Camaro, or Camry, they have more similarities than the outgoing cars.

Obviously, a stock Mustang, Camaro or Camry does not have aerodynamic elements for only turning left. The new cars are all symmetrical, just like the actual cars they represent. In addition, the old race cars had a live rear axle, while the commercially available Mustang, Camaro, and Camry all have independent rear suspension. Therefore, the new Cup Cars’ rear end is closer to stock.

Next, check out my ultimate guide to the NASCAR Next Generation Car or see the Animagraffs video for yourself:

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