Truex, Kurt Busch, fast-lap NASCAR's Next Gen car at CMS

Images by Kelly Crandall

Truex, Kurt Busch, fast-lap NASCAR's Next Gen car at CMS


Truex, Kurt Busch, fast-lap NASCAR's Next Gen car at CMS


Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch enjoyed their first experience with the Next Gen race car during a day of testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The two former NASCAR Cup Series champions are the first to put two Next Gen cars on track simultaneously, doing so on the Roval configuration. Truex drove the car prepared by Action Express and previously tested on the Daytona road course.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” said Truex during one of his breaks. “Obviously, looking at the car and the way it’s all set up and everything, it’s kind of dialed in and more suited for the road course. I think the bigger challenge will be Wednesday when we get on the oval. But so far, so good. It’s been fun to drive; no real issues to speak of and handling pretty good. It’s been pretty fun. I think it suits the track well.”

Charlotte marks the first time Next Gen has been tested on a road course. Officials will have Truex and Busch run on the 1.5-mile oval layout for the second test day on Wednesday.

“I guess it does everything a little bit better,” said Truex of the car being on the Roval. “It’s a little bit easier to drive, in general, around the road course. It turns really, really well.”

Truex continually praised how the car felt around the road course, going as far as to say the car made the road course more fun to drive. And Truex revealed that he saw that the tire temperatures were down. As a result, he felt Goodyear and NASCAR could start making “these tires softer already” with the same weight car and more tire surface area (as the tires are bigger than the current vehicle), and it will hopefully help on the oval tracks, too.

Experiencing the sequential shifter for the first time, Truex admitted that while it was easier and more effective – and that there are more gears for drivers going through the infield portion of the track – he had to keep reminding himself how to use it properly and not hurt the car.

“It sounds cool,” said Truex. “I think it sounds kind of cool and badass when you’re driving it. It’s kind of throaty, deep sounding. It’s been kind of fun there. … Yes, the exhaust is different – it’s got an exhaust out each side, which is kind of old school like they used to run back in the day; that’s why it sounds different.”

Busch echoed Truex’s thoughts about the sound of the car. He was able to take in what it sounded like when Truex was making a run.

Despite how similar the Next Gen car feels to the current car, Truex said it will still be a big learning curve for everyone. He will continue with the same car on Wednesday, as will Busch.

Speaking of Busch, he was behind the wheel of the “P3” prototype prepared by Richard Childress Racing and NASCAR that was most recently tested at Auto Club Speedway and Dover International Speedway. Busch described the day as “fun, exciting, interesting” with a first-day-of-school feeling.

“I love shifting through the gears,” said Busch. “This gearbox is fun to drive. The brakes are much bigger, and the car can stop a lot quicker, and then we actually have a hybrid horsepower range. Right now, we’re not in the full 750, but we’re not the low 550 (horsepower package) either. But overall, (my) first impression is ‘fun, exciting and different.’ I encourage everybody to dig into it to find its differences and to respect the process that NASCAR’s going through to implement all these new, exciting components.”

Officials spent Monday going through tires for Goodyear to find the best combination. However, Busch said the car responded well throughout the day when there were both aggressive and small changes.

“The car accelerates quicker, it stops quicker, it turns quicker, it’s more nimble,” he said. “All the lap time that’s been gained is through the infield section with this independent rear suspension and the ability to shift quicker.

“So really the car … I don’t want to use the word ‘steroids’; it’s just the car is more effective and the car is more sensitive to changes and to feel. Even with a shorter sidewall, the car (drives) well, but you feel everything more vividly.”

Busch anticipates that he and Truex will run together during Wednesday’s test, whereas Monday, they were never in the same vicinity on the track.