CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR’s Next Gen car is on track for a full two days of testing on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course Monday and Tuesday, putting next year’s Cup Series model through its paces.
The two-day session comes after the Bank of America Roval 400 weekend, and race winner Kyle Larson is among those participating. A total of 21 teams were on schedule to participate, getting their first chance to tune on the new model at the track in an organizational test.
What a sampling of drivers and a top NASCAR competition official said they anticipate from this week’s Next Gen test:
Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Team Penske Ford: “We’ll see. It’s nice to be able to test the Next Gen car the next two days for long days. I think it’ll be good. I ran that car at Texas earlier this year, and obviously coming to a road course, it’ll be way different in how it’s going to drive and really see what the braking performance is and the tire performance. Nice to jump in the day after we run this car. It’s like, ‘I can do this better here’ or ‘it does this worse here.’ Just kind of pick and choose when it’s fresh in your head. You’re not looking back months prior and be like, ‘I think this is better here.’ So I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be really nice to get behind that car, and it’s really nice to get more organizational tests here. We have this one, we have the Charlotte oval, we have Phoenix. I think it’s really good to try to just start getting laps in that car.”
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: “Hopefully, a whole lot of learning, right? I think there’s still a lot of question marks about the car that we want to learn. I think there’s things that NASCAR wants to learn, so we’re just going to hopefully dial it in. I’m excited to get two days at a road course of testing for me. I feel like I don’t have a lot of road course background, and it’s something that I can continue to improve on, so improving myself as a race car driver over the next two days will be a lot of fun.”
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: “I got fitted for a seat insert the last couple weeks, and mirrors and shifter and things like that, but I’ve never been in it on the ground, so I’m sure everything will look different once I’m on the ground. I’m excited to see how it drives, kind of going in with no expectations and take it slow and not wreck the car for the other guys.”
Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford: “It’ll be a lot different, a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Not just for driver, crew chief and the engineers, but the mechanics to learn how to work on this car. Everything is different. The seat and the steering wheel are the same, but I think after that, it’s all different. So just a lot of things — the mirrors aren’t even the same. You’ve got plenty to look at and think about and talk about. You don’t have many tests and practice will be limited. We’ve just got to make the most out of that test to try to get ahead, right? It’s such an underdeveloped car right now — we don’t know what works and what doesn’t work, and we have to figure that stuff out pretty quickly. We don’t have a great starting point because we haven’t been here before, so you just have to start from the beginning.”
Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota: “I think just trying to learn about the car, obviously there’s so much different about it than what we’ve ever raced, so there’s going to be a lot of learning. There’s going to be a lot of trying things, seeing where maybe our cars are compared to the other manufacturers, competition, etc. — all those things. Really just see where you’re at and see where you need to go. And then, something that I’ve heard a lot about is the heat. I didn’t have to deal with it when I drove it — it was really cold here. The way the car was put together was all different, and it wasn’t an issue. It’s really been a big issue this summer, a hot topic. We’ll see if the heat’s still an issue and if they were able to find any things to fix that.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition (to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio): “We’ll just be over there working with the teams and looking for team feedback. This is the first time a lot of them have run their own cars, and it will be interesting, the particulars of each team’s feedback as to where some minor improvements could be made. Just looking at things like where we might need extra heat shielding, just all of those things that are little things that we’ll be soliciting individual team feedback on. We have a few teams working with us on some different airflows under the car and evacuating speed from out from under it. We have definitely some development work going on still, just really though, the teams getting miles on their stuff and what they’ve found and next steps moving forward.”