Where do we start? Everyone seems to have an idea for how NASCAR should fix what’s wrong with its cup series. Attendance is down and the reasons are almost as many as there are enthusiasts. But the NASCAR hierarchy has been diligent in addressing some of its longstanding issues one at a time. Now it is ready to debut its new Next-Gen cup racer hoping to end some major complaints about cup cars.
In testing for over a year the Next-Gen will debut at the May 5 race
In testing for over a year the Next-Gen will debut at the May 5 race. While NASCAR is being coy about the Next-Gen specs here’s what has been revealed. Steel is out and carbon fiber is in. The five lug nuts per wheel are also history. Now pit crews will only have to deal with a center lock during pit stops. New 18-inch wheels will do a lot for both the overall look of the racing sedans but also for handling.
Maybe one of the biggest changes is what you won’t see. Body kits for aero enhancements will be reduced. In this way, drivers will have to drive. Whether drafting or leading the pack, drivers won’t be able to rely on aero aids to help them get out of jams. Having to drive with skill will separate the good drivers from the great ones.
There are other changes for the Next-Gens to help mix things up. The old four-speed manual transmissions are gone. In their place is a six-speed sequential unit. Now there will be more shifting through gears and more use of the transmission to control different conditions on the track.
All of these Next-Gen changes should promote closer racing
Also, rear ends won’t be live axles. Instead, independent rear suspensions will be added. Loading the corners and chassis setups will change handling in a positive way. It may even promote closer racing.
Besides these changes, the exhaust will now be split. It was found this increased cockpit heat but improved airflow ventilation helped with this new issue. Engines will still be the venerable V8 though NASCAR says hybrid versions are coming in the immediate future. For those who say that NASCAR cars don’t reflect current production models; especially with drivetrains and suspensions, this is a step in the right direction.
It also gives fans a different way of looking at the races. Knowing these changes are incorporated into the cars adds a fresh perspective. But making drivers drive adds more intensity and intrigue. We hope that this is the shot in the arm that NASCAR needs. We also hope that if it proves successful, it will spur NASCAR to explore other ways of juicing up its racing fare.