On May 5th, NASCAR held the Next-Gen unveil for 2022. The three manufacturers of Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota revealed their Cup cars and gave us some insight into the new specs and additions. The new cars will be an entirely new composite body (similar to the Xfinity Series) making them more resilient to bumps and wrecks. Along with the added independent rear suspension I talked about before, NASCAR has also given the manufacturers more creative wiggle room when it comes to body panels. All while still being within the guidelines of course.
The Big Changes
Competition focused. Performance designed.— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 5, 2021
Take a look at the biggest changes coming to NASCAR Cup Series racing in 2022. pic.twitter.com/VeuYQZxYRu
NASCAR’s big focus in the Next-Gen car was to really try and bring back some of the “stock” in stock car. The cars were designed by each manufacturer to make them look like their street counterpart. In an effort to do this, the cars will have a shorter greenhouse (roof), extended hood, and shortened deck lid. These changes make the cars look much more like the coupes you would see on the street today. Also, the cars will be slightly wider than what we’ve seen in the past. Mostly due to making them look more stock but this will also make the cars more sturdy.
A shorter spoiler and the addition of a rear diffuser will make the drag of the car more even. Hopefully, this decreases the chances of flips. NASCAR still hasn’t revealed what their track aero packages will be but I’m guessing Superspeedways will no longer need as big of a rear spoiler! Also, with the decision to add a rear diffuser, the cars won’t need to be squatted to the ground at each track! But an official announcement on the matter has yet to be made.
Next-Gen Virtual Debut at Darlington
After the unveiling, NASCAR contenders hopped into the virtual Next-Gen Cup cars for the first time. The first laps went about as well as you’d expect, with most of the field wrecking as they headed into turn one. Hey, better on iRacing than on a real track. After the first few cautions, the drivers got the hang of the new cars and we really got to see what these new machines can do. Darlington is one of those tracks that really only has a couple of lines no matter what car you run, but the new cars looked great. There were several fast lines being run and “dirty” air didn’t seem to have a lot of effect on speed.
Opinions on the Next-Gen Car
I’ve been following the Next-Gen car since its first announcement when it was supposed to debut in 2021. Unfortunately with COVID, it had to be pushed back to next year. But I think that its postponement was good in the end. With the extra year, NASCAR has really been able to dial in the new car and made it the best it could be. Next season will be an interesting one when they will really be put to the test and I can’t wait!