The coronavirus pandemic has pushed back the debut of NASCAR’s new Cup Series car.
NASCAR announced Thursday that the new car wouldn’t officially be on the track until the start of the 2022 season. Officials had long been targeting the debut of the 2021 season and the upcoming Daytona 500 as the new car’s first official race.
“Due to the challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next-Gen car will be delayed until 2022,” a statement from vice president John Probst said. “The decision was made in collaboration with the [manufacturers] and team owners. We will continue to develop the Next-Gen car, and a revised testing timeline will be shared when more information is available.”
The current Cup Series car made its debut at the beginning of the 2013 season. While manufacturers have changed aspects of the car like the designs of the bodies and NASCAR has made numerous rule changes regarding the engines and aerodynamic rules, the construction of the chassis of the car has largely stayed consistent in that timeframe.
The impending Cup Series car is a completely new design and was set to be rolled out at a much faster pace than the Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR’s last all-new car design in the mid-2000s. The much-maligned COT was the culmination of a five-year project that started with safety in mind after the death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500.
The COT was also introduced in an era where NASCAR teams were flush with cash in the midst of the series’ early aughts boom. That’s not the case now as teams have been facing years of increasing expenses and declining revenues as NASCAR’s audience has dwindled.
A new goal of the now-delayed new car is cost control over time, though Kyle Busch noted earlier this year that teams are looking at steep upfront costs ahead of the car’s debut. Street races with NASCAR’s new car have been floated as new events for NASCAR’s schedule in the future and this is what Busch’s answer was to a question about those type of races.
“From my understanding, I haven't seen it, I haven't looked at it, I haven't heard a whole lot about it, the only thing I have heard is [the new car is] heavier than the current car that we have now, and that is not a positive for going street course racing,” Busch said. “In case people have forgotten, we wreck a lot, right? The cars that we're trying to emulate are those of the 24‑hour car, the GTD car [in IMSA], which they crash, but they don't crash a lot. Like they're not all bunched up together, restrictor plate races and things like that, and we need all these safety bars and door bars for T‑bones and everything else around them, right.
“So when they had to implement all of that into this new car build, the car is heavy. It's heavier I think than what we have right now. So there's a problem in that. The other problem you're going to have is I don't think any of these owners realize that if they're going to start spending $800,000 for a car, we're going to be crashing the hell out of them. Right now they're only $200,000 cars. So have fun, boys."
– – – – – – –
Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
More from Yahoo Sports: