NASCAR Next Gen car still a work in progress – Sports Business Journal

December 20, 2021 by No Comments

The Next Gen cars have been put through the paces at Charlotte Motor Speedway.getty images

The debate about how ready NASCAR’s new car is for its 2022 debut is raging in the racing industry, but the governing body remains resolute that the new model is going to deliver as expected.

 

The stock car series is switching from its sixth generation model to its seventh starting with the 2022 season, and the new Next Gen car has been touted as a way to improve the racing on the track and the sport’s business model off it.

The transition has been complicated because NASCAR is using entirely new forms of technology for the car design and a new system for sourcing parts — this amid a pandemic that has brought on supply chain, labor and inflation issues. Teams don’t yet have their full fleets of new cars for next season.

NASCAR and teams are in the offseason testing process for the car ahead of the start of the 2022 campaign, which is set for Feb. 6 with the exhibition Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Coliseum. Last week, they were testing the car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. They have been working to optimize the new model, as drivers have been complaining about different elements from slow speeds and ill handling to heat and safety concerns. “The car is not where it needs to be, and people are scrambling,” Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was quoted by Fox Sports. “We’ve got to make some changes. We need to make it better so we can race with it, put on a show for the fans.”

There has also been at least one instance so far of NASCAR changing a standardized part — the front clip — after teams had already bought the initial version for a couple thousand dollars. That has increased fears by some that the changeover costs are going to be higher than originally anticipated. The new car is supposed to dramatically reduce the costs for team owners and some have predicted it could even eventually cut those costs in half.

A source familiar with the situation told Sports Business Journal that NASCAR is working with teams on ways to offset costs of any parts that can’t be used anymore through the testing process.

SBJ surveyed several industry executives about the situation and found that the level of concern varied, though almost all agreed that many, if not all, of the issues may be fixable. Most declined to speak on the record because the situation is ongoing and sensitive. Many agreed with NASCAR that there is no reason to panic at the moment.

In a statement to SBJ, John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, noted that the governing body has worked closely with teams, drivers and parts makers to evolve the Next Gen race car. He stated: “We are confident that the racing will continue to be strong each week, and will only improve as teams continue to dial in their cars throughout the season.”

Some industry executives have suggested as an alternative that NASCAR use the sixth generation car for the first part of next season before slowly phasing in the Next Gen model in the latter part of the year and fully introducing it in 2023. However, NASCAR …….

Source: https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2021/12/20/Upfront/Motorsports.aspx

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