NASCAR says the latest round of testing with its prototype Next Gen car achieved the goals set for horsepower and drag levels while turning up “nothing surprising” at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday.
John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation, called the two-day test “all good” for the development of the car. It was the first time Next Gen has run on a superspeedway. Chris Buescher of Roush Fenway Racing was behind the wheel.
“Daytona was an important test for us because when we come back here in 2022, we have to make sure we hit the speed targets that we’re looking for,” said Probst. “We came here with one car; obviously we would like to come here with 15 or 20, but we just don’t have that many right now.
“So we played with a lot of horsepower levels and drag levels to hit our target speed, which we were able to do pretty easily. We did that early in day one. Then spent the rest of the test trying some new things on steering and also doing some ride-height sweeps just to get some sensitivities in the car to ride height.”
Trying the new car for the first time, Buescher offered feedback on its feel while going through tire and aerodynamic packages. In terms of aero, the development team was looking for what might draft well and put on good racing in a pack. Beyond the nuances, Buescher worked on understanding the sequential shifter.
“I really enjoyed using it and got better as it went, learning what it can and can’t do there by the end,” said Buescher. “The brakes are terrific, and I know this isn’t even a short-track setup, but they stop extremely well. There’s not going to be any issues getting to pit road and not having the stopping power, just going to be a matter of not spinning out.
“Obviously, Daytona single-car is not the most fun kind of testing, but a lot was learned. I’m glad I did it. Even if it’s as little as going back and looking at the car we have at Roush, that we’ve been working on and sitting in, and trying to figure out what we feel like is the right thing to do from my input where the pedals and stuff need to be. Definitely a good test for me. I’m glad I got to drive the thing before we start testing late next year; I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
NASCAR has now tested the car multiple times since resuming its on-track schedule in August. The Daytona test might have led to discovering things on the vehicle that could be promising for other tracks, and officials may try to get the car on track at Charlotte to see if it translates from a superspeedway to other track types.
As for what’s next, NASCAR is “working with the OEMs and with the teams to establish what our testing schedule will look like next year,” said Probst. “We will be working with Goodyear to do a couple more tests with the car, but it will be coming out of the development phase, and we’ll be focusing primarily on the tires. We’ll probably do three or four tire tests in the first half of next year for Goodyear.”