NASCAR wrapped up a two day test at Richmond Raceway on Wednesday, putting a version of its next generation car on the track for the first time. Austin Dillon and Richard Childress Racing handled the on-track duties for the test, shaking down a preliminary version of a car set to debut in 2021.
Not many details were provided, but photos from the test show new 18 inch wheels, a rear diffuser, a new look splitter and side-skirt, along with hood vents to support the aero ducts.
“This is an important milestone for the Next Gen car and the future of stock car racing,” said John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development in a release. “There are so many new systems on the car from the front to the back that our main goal with this test was to log laps and put miles on them. The test has met – and even exceeded – our expectations, and we are well on our way to developing the final iteration of the car.”
NASCAR has warned that this is not the final look of the car as manufacturers are still working on the bodies. The sanctioning body noted that this was one of two prototypes built. The other hasn’t hit the track, but it has been tested in a windtunnel. NASCAR notes that another test will take place before the end of the year.
“We have a very comprehensive test plan,” Probst said. “We will be doing extensive wind tunnel testing to ensure liftoff speeds are appropriate before moving to larger tracks. As we move into 2020, we will begin testing on intermediate tracks, superspeedways and road courses.”
We know that this car will follow the direction that NASCAR has already put into motion — low horsepower and high downforce. The thought behind the new car is about getting back to more of a “stock” look, which you can certainly see from the limited pictures we have.
“I really enjoyed driving the car,” Austin Dillon said during the test. “I like the way that it looks, you can see the finished product down the road. The OEMs can make the body look really good, like a street car that you see on the road today. When it comes together and they all get their cars on the track, we’re going to have something to work with that also looks really good.”
NASCAR will continue in 2020 with virtually the same rules package that they are using in 2019. With a new car on the horizon, making too many changed didn’t make much financial sense. The new direction is supposed to attract new manufacturers, slash costs and improve the on-track racing product. Other changes like a single-nut wheel are being discussed.
This, along with promises of a needed schedule overhaul, have NASCAR set for a total transformation in the next two years.