Austin Dillon has been trying to adequately explain the feel of the Next Gen race car to his fellow competitors who have asked about the two-day test Dillon participated in at Richmond Raceway.
“Some of them have reached out; I haven’t talked to most of them, but a lot of guys came over … just asking about it. I can’t wait until they get to get in it and make their own opinions of it,” Dillon told RACER. “I had a blast driving it. It’s definitely something different. I think it’s great for our sport and can’t wait to see what these other guys have to say. I really enjoyed it.
“I’m usually a positive guy and like change, but I don’t feel like even the guys that aren’t usually on the positive side can say much bad about it when they get in it. We’ll see when the next couple rounds of guys get to run it and make their own opinion.”
Dillon drove a prototype built by Richard Childress Racing in collaboration with NASCAR. It was the first on-track test for the car that is still on schedule to be rolled out in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2021.
“Most of the guys were asking, what did it drive like? How did it feel? I tried to give them the best opinion I could,” said Dillon. “They also wanted to know how I thought it was going to race in traffic and stuff like that, and what the tire felt like.
“I gave them all the information I could give them, and now it’s probably up to them to make their own opinion of it and see what they think.”
Asked what he’d most like from the new car, Aric Almirola said a driver wants to know that if his car is faster than the one in front of him, there is the ability to make a pass. Almirola said that’s been a bit of challenge, and he hopes the ’21 car will be better in that direction.
When Ty Dillon caught up with his older brother, he could tell how excited Austin was about the car. Ty said it is “totally different” and he was surprised at some of what he heard they were doing.
“He said it was crazy and a whole lot different,” said Ty Dillon. “It’s exciting for our sport. Our sport needs to continue to grow and evolve. That is the kind of steps we need to take in all aspects of the sport. I think the tracks need to take that kind of growth step. I think television needs to take that step in growth. I think the teams and NASCAR, in general, need to continue to move in that direction for the sport to continue to thrive.
“All he told me is that it stops really good, it turns really good, it feels lighter and faster. Just some different things and some new unique aspects that I didn’t even know were things on the car they are working on trying. It’s all still in a development stage of a car, but it sounds exciting. I think it’s going to be a lot of good things for the sport.”
On his podcast earlier this week, Corey LaJoie said when he talked to Dillon he was given hope that the field can get through dirty air better. LaJoie also expressed excitement with the direction the sport is going. Another interesting note was LaJoie relaying that Dillon expressed the car “drives like a race car should.”
What exactly does that mean?
“We all grew up running cars that are a little different than what we drive today,” said Dillon. “They [didn’t] react as slow as the cars we drive today. The cars we raced growing up mostly have a rack steering system like we’re going to have in the new car, and the steering is quicker and it just reacts a little bit different than what we’ve been running in NASCAR since the beginning.”
NASCAR said it expects to have another on-track test — with its second prototype — before the end of the year.