Key stretch begins for NASCAR in development of Next Gen car

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The event is over. The celebration has actually ended. While there may be some hangovers from Thursday night’s crowning of Cup champ Kyle Larson, Friday brings NASCAR one day closer to the start of the 2022 season.

And with it, concerns stay about the Next Gen vehicle.

NASCAR looks for to discover some responses in the wind tunnel Friday. Authorities will take what is found out there and use it to a three-car test Dec. 10 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval. That precedes an organizational test there for all Cup groups Dec. 15 and 17.

The vehicle’s handling, especially in traffic throughout 2 tests days at Charlotte last month, raised issues — much more than the slower speeds.

Joey Logano will be amongst those participating in the three-car test next week.

“I think right now we just need to figure out how do we get cars as close as possible and race as good as we can,” he stated Thursday prior to the NASCAR Awards program. “There’s a lot of pieces to this new car that will allow that.”

The style of the brand-new vehicle, however, has actually altered where the aerodynamic “dirty air” impacts a tracking vehicle.

“If you could imagine a boat where the wake would get wide but to the right,” Logano stated of the previous vehicle. “So, if you’re three car lengths back, and you move to the right, you’re done. You’d rather go to the left or stay right behind the car. It was worse if you went to the right.

“Now (with the Next Gen car), if you go to the right, it’s cleaner air. … Almost like the (leading) car isn’t even there. That part is a huge gain. It’s getting that when you’re actually behind a car better. That wake is bigger right now.

“You can imagine all the air is funneling right behind (the leading car) instead of being dispersed all the way across it. That part is where I think we can make some adjustments to make it better, but I think there’s definitely some great signs of hope to fix ‘dirty air’ on ovals.”

NASCAR Cup Series Test

NASCAR Cup Series Test

Kevin Harvick stated more horse power is required. Groups initially were at 550 horse power at last month’s Charlotte test. Groups were enabled to attempt some various things to enhance speed and handling. Stewart-Haas Racing went with a various tapered spacer that produced closer to 670 horse power.

“Right now, you don’t have enough power to start a pass when somebody (ahead) screws up,” Harvick stated of the 550-horsepower bundle for intermediate tracks. “I think that the power is key.

“There’s no way the car behind you is ever going to be as good as the car in front of you. … Everybody wants the car to be hard to drive, but you want a balanced car that you can work on and be able to make the car driver better than somebody else’s.”

Harvick stated he would like NASCAR to offer groups more horse power on larger tracks.

“I think the easiest thing to do is to make it the same as the short track engine package,” he stated of the 670-horsepower bundle that will be utilized at brief tracks and roadway courses. “Make it as easy on the engine shop as possible.

“If I was in charge, I would send that press release out yesterday, that a we’re going to go to more horsepower.”

Whatever is done, Denny Hamlin stated requirements to occur quickly.

“I think it’s going to be very, very important for NASCAR to really be organized in this Charlotte test and, honestly, just come up with a plan of like good, bad or indifferent, this is what we’re going to do,” Hamlin stated.

One issue he has is the with the supply chain for parts with the brand-new vehicle need to the current COVID-19 alternative stop or sluggish production of products utilized for it.

“The supply chain issue is what we’re kind of worried about,” he stated. “Any more changes, we’re 60 days from racing. We’re nervous. We’ve got to lock it in.

“I believe that we do collectively have some good ideas of how to race this car better and drive better. The (Car of Tomorrow) was a mess when we started it, and it got better. I hope we can do the same with this car.”

Logano is positive that will occur, however he notes it will take perseverance, not just from rivals however from fans.

“There will be learning curves with this car,” Logano stated. “For our whole industry, we have to be a little bit patient because it’s the biggest change in the history of our sport. Richard Petty told me that, so I know it’s true.

“We have to be careful not to say this is going to be the savior and going to be everything and completely fix all of our issues immediately. It’s so different.

“We have a lot to learn, so we have to be a little bit patient on how this car is going to be. The theory and where we’re going with it is going to be fantastic for our sport.”

2. Words to contemplate

It has actually been called “the best-kept secret” in NASCAR.

No, it’s not some setup sheet. It is the journal that gets passed from one Cup champ to the next.

Jimmie Johnson began it in 2011 after a chat with NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton about how absolutely nothing was passed in between champs. The presence of this journal was concealed up until 2017 when Johnson published a photo on social networks offering the journal to Martin Truex Jr.

Precisely what the champs compose is mainly held personal.

Kyle Busch stated he filled a page in his letter to Chase Elliott.

“I guess I just was kind of explaining like, ‘Hey, this is new territory for you, but this is a territory where you can not necessarily change the sport or change the world, but man, just live it up, and enjoy it and know that you’re Chase Elliott and now that you’re a champion, you’ve made it in this sport,’ ” Busch stated in January.

NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500

NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500

With Kyle Larson winning this year’s title, it quickly will be time for Elliott to offer the journal to his Hendrick Motorsports colleague.

“One of the coolest parts about being champion, I feel like, is having that,” Elliott stated of the journal prior to Thursday’s NASCAR Awards program. “I haven’t given it to Kyle yet. I’m going to write in it probably the next week or so and give it to him around our Christmas party at Hendrick.

“It’s a great honor to have seen (the journal) and to have read what is in it and to be able to pass that along. I think it’s one of the coolest things that we do. … I just wish it went back further. I think it would be incredible. I can’t wait for the champion in 2050 or 2040 or whatever to get that and read what some of the greats have written, like Tony (Stewart) and Jimmie.”

As Elliott considers his words to Larson, will he compose something individual to his colleague or something more broad in scope?

“I’ve been thinking about that,” Elliott stated. “I haven’t decided exactly how I want to angle it. Even if I had, I probably wouldn’t share it. That’s kind of the whole point of the book is for no one else to know what is in it. So, whatever I decide I’ll make a personal decision and try to make it special.”

3. Unique journey

Cup champ Kyle Larson will participate in the Dec. 12 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the season-ending occasion for Formula 1.

“I’ll be a race fan and am really excited about it,” Larson stated.

He’ll exist just on race day, restricting his opportunities to satisfy any rivals.

“I hope I can meet drivers, team managers … and just meet as many people as I can and just kind of enjoy the whole experience,” he stated.

Asked what he would wish to talk with F1 chauffeurs about, Larson stated: “I just hope that people know who I am. I hope I go there and have people know because I feel like that naturally starts a conversation. I’m not one to go up and talk about myself.”

Larson stated he’s sure this journey will offer him a higher gratitude for F1.

“I’m not like a car guy, so I haven’t ever in the past gotten into the technology side of it or anything like that, but I think once I go to this Formula 1 race, I’ll have a way different appreciation and just curiosity about the cars and the technology,” he stated.

4. Child names

Kyle and Samantha Busch recorded their battles to have a kid prior to child Brexton was born in May 2015. The couple continued to share their experiences as they looked for to have a 2nd kid.

Not Able to do so, they will have a surrogate bring a child woman for them, sharing the news Nov. 16.

“Early on, in the transfer with the surrogate, we have certainly tried to hold our emotions down, don’t let them get too high,” Kyle Busch stated. “Since we announced, we announced after the quote-unquote safe period of 12 weeks, so we feel pretty good that it should come through and should have a baby girl in May.

NASCAR Champion's Banquet

NASCAR Champion’s Banquet

“That’s been really great just to get to that part of that. I’m sure it is disappointing and a little hurt sets into Samantha with not having that ability to carry. She did with Brexton and that’s the greatest thing that she has ever done and felt and been a part of.

“She’ll obviously miss that with this one, and she even said ‘Now I kind of feel like the husband of the relationship because I’m not carrying it, but there is something going on and there is something big happening, but yet I really don’t know about it. I’m not intertwined in it until it happens.’ Now she sees my side of the fence a little bit. Her and the surrogate have a great relationship and they talk daily.”

As they look ahead, among the essential choices will be to come up with a lady’s name. They’re not set on a name at this moment.

“This one is harder,” Kyle Busch stated. “Brexton was easy. We wanted to give him the B.B. initial. this one, we’re wide open. We don’t have have a first initial picked out. I think instead of having about 20 names to choose from we’re on 500 or something.”

5. Cycle

The last time NASCAR remained in Nashville for the Cup awards was 2019. It was a horrible time for Daniel Hemric.

NASCAR Champion's Portraits

NASCAR Champ’s Pictures

He existed to be honored as the Cup Novice of the Year, however he lacked a flight for the following season.

“You felt like your life was unraveling,” Hemric stated. “My wife was a pregnant. … All those emotions.

“I remember that week, as her and I walked around town, I ended up buying a sport coat. Spent a little money on it. I thought, ‘I’m going to wear this with pride.”

When he went back to Nashville today as the Xfinity Series champ, he brought that sport coat with him and used it Wednesday as he NASCAR took pictures of the series champs in different places in the city.

“That’s pretty cool,” Hemric stated. “A full-circle moment.”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.