NASCAR is about to change. For the 2022 season, the association is rolling out the Next Gen race car. Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Chevrolet, was able to test the new spec and concluded, “I’m excited about it.”
NASCAR Next Gen car: more downforce, less turbulence
One of the most dramatic departures for the Next Gen car will be its increased downforce. According to Wallace, NASCAR engineers have added, “pretty much a thousand pounds more downforce.” In addition, engineers changed several aspects of the car to accomplish this downforce increase.
Wallace first noticed a “different spoiler on the back.” The only downside of the taller spoiler is it blocks the view of the rearview mirror. To fix the problem, NASCAR installed a rearview camera, a feature that is dividing drivers.
In addition to the taller spoiler, the Next Gen car features hood-top vents, so expelled air pushes the car’s front end down. The new splitter is more aggressive as well.
Finally, the Next Gen transaxle and independent rear suspension layout allow NASCAR’s first full car-length “underwing.” The underwing evacuates air from beneath the car. Under the rear bumper, the underwing ends in a diffuser designed to reduce the turbulence behind the vehicle.
Racing engineers attempted to reduce the Next Gen car’s turbulence to be easier to pass during NASCAR Cup races. However, Wallace pointed out that reduced turbulence doesn’t mean no turbulence. He said, “We’re probably still going to battle ‘the dirty air ‘…when you get within three or four car lengths of another car, and you kinda stall out.”
NASCAR Next Gen car: hundreds more horsepower
Adding one thousand pounds of downforce to any car impacts acceleration. For this reason, NASCAR engineers are finally relaxing the restrictor plate requirement that limits racing engines to approximately 410 horsepower.
Teams will have to set up their Next Gen cars with different aerodynamics packages for different tracks. At the tracks requiring maximum downforce, NASCAR will replace the traditional restrictor plate atop the intake manifold with a new “tapered spacer.”
While the restrictor plate was a 1/8-inch aluminum plate with officially-sized holes, the spacer will be an inch tall and have funnel-shaped nozzles instead of holes. This change will increase the Next Gen car’s power to 725 horsepower.
Wallace is excited by the prospect of a high horsepower car with more downforce that produces less turbulence. He said, “We could have the majority of the field close together and racing and trying to whatever they can to get to the lead.” The resulting car should “just closes up the gap, from 20th on back.”
Bubba Wallace noticed additional Next Gen improvements
After testing a Next Gen prototype, Wallace was impressed by the new independent suspension and the car’s overall balance. He added, “One thing I’ve noticed about the car is that the balance doesn’t really change over a long run.” The driver specified. “We’ve had the same balance from 12 p.m. to this 6 p.m. break.”
Wallace also appreciated the pitch of the new dual exhaust. He said, “The car sounds really cool; from the inside, it sounds really mean.”
Some NASCAR drivers may be apprehensive about adapting to an all-new car, but not Wallace. He said, “It’s different, but it’s a race car at the end of the day” He has confidence in his new team at 23XI racing. He said, “we’re going to figure it out.”
With more powerful cars and more passing opportunities, NASCAR 2022 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. Wallace concluded, “It’s gonna be interesting.”