After 3-years of development the NASCAR Next Gen car will make its debut on Sunday at the Daytona 500. This is the seventh generation of a NASCAR stock car and is an attempt to have a race car with a stronger resemblance to the passenger car a consumer could buy at a dealership and to level the playing field for all racing teams.
“The Next Gen Camaro has a much stronger link to the production Camaro ZL1 in terms of styling integration, improved proportions and relevant technologies,” said Eric Warren, Chevrolet director of NASCAR Programs. “From an engineering standpoint, this is a seismic shift. It’s a completely new car that brings with it a lot of opportunity from a technical standpoint.”
Another factor in the Next Gen’s development was to level the playing field for all teams, with all car components, except the engine, coming from a single sources. Teams will buy their parts from the same vendors and will no longer have the option to make their own parts in house.
“I think an important point is it’s not just the parts,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “That’s not what makes a race car win. It’s how the parts come together, the system it creates, the vehicle performance it creates. That’s done by the people.”
Under the hood is a fuel-injected 358ci V8 engine that produces 670 horsepower, and the engine is paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. A newly developed transaxle combines the transmission and rear gears into one package that gives NASCAR the ability to integrate electrification in the future.
The Next Gen car has been upgraded with an independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, and larger brakes. A fully symmetrical body was introduced to produce less downforce. The bottom of the car is sealed with an underwing and rear diffuser to aid handling in traffic and cut down on ‘dirty air’. The change in the aero package is an attempt to put a greater emphasis on the driver’s ability and the car’s set up.
“I think we’re still in the car racing business, in the competition business,” Denny Hamlin said. “We as drivers, the more things become similar on the racetrack, the more it comes in our hands to make the difference. We have to identify as drivers where can we be better, where do we need to up our game to be competitive.”