Next Gen puts showroom-style relevancy back on track

Win on Sunday. Offer on Monday.

The sales slogan has actually returned.

With Wednesday‘s unveil of the Next Gen car for 2022, it is clear NASCAR plans to put the “stock” back in stock-car racing. The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Ford Mustang and Toyota TRD Camry feature three individualized bodies, and their initial visual display closely reflects each of their showroom counterparts. Once again, the weekly race car closely matches the everyday street car.

“If you look at the cars from the ’90s and ’80s, whatnot, you might inform what kind of automobile it was,” NASCAR Cup Series chauffeur Denny Hamlin stated. “If they were all white, you might inform that‘s a Pontiac whatever. These, if you weren‘t here, they look different. Like it‘s not just the same car with Toyota headlights and taillights. These cars are different. All three of them have a very distinct and different look from the front and back.

“It doesn‘t matter what the color scheme is. It‘s not the same car with different decals on it, that‘s for sure.”

NEXT GEN IN PHOTOS: Chevrolet | Ford | Toyota

That was a priority from the very start.

Next Gen discussions began in January 2019. Originally, the car was supposed to make its on-track debut in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the timeline back a year. That delay actually helped with development beyond design.

“It was the technical task of, OK, as we move through this, how are we going to get to a level playing field on the aerodynamics side?” said Brandon Thomas, who led the Next Gen project for NASCAR. “How are we going to get our version of racing to where the OEMs can have this branding but we‘re not going to have one OEM design something into their car that can be heavily manipulated and deliver on performance?”

Important questions to prevent unfair advantages, and the manufacturers helped provide answers collectively. They, too, wanted more style relevancy. Because at the end of the day, they‘re trying to sell a product through the sport of racing. And in order to do that, there needs to be a connection between a fan and the brand.

Representatives from each manufacturer were at the reveal in Charlotte, North Carolina, to share their thoughts on what this means for their future.

  • David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development: “There’s no error we’re racing a TRD Camry. I’m proud of the development that the market has actually taken towards that; even with Gen-6, a lot better than what we’ve raced in the past. This is an innovative, another revolutionary, advance. I do think the mommy or father driving this monster of a TRD Camry is going to take more pride in our success.”

  • Eric Warren, director of NASCAR programs for General Motors (Chevrolet): “Now that we’re going to have the closeness between the race car and Camaro, we’re going to race it as long as Camaro exists because it’s the closest connection between the race car and production car, which is exciting for all the fans, Camaro owners and customers.”

  • Mark Rushbrook, worldwide director of Ford Efficiency: “We think even for an F-150 customer, if it looks more like a Ford Mustang, it is more clearly Ford to them, and they’re going to be happy and proud of Ford on track in that Mustang and go buy a F-150 on Monday. It is good for the brand, just not that nameplate.”

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This frame of mind go back might likewise bring brand-new producers to NASCAR, which is viewed as a favorable to those currently in the garage. The more, the much better. For everybody. A win over a lot more rivals would simply even more assert supremacy for a producer, and the more producers included would result in much better financial backing and security for NASCAR.

All advantages — or so it appears today. Just time will inform as Next Gen tests continue and races start. The automobile‘s main on-track launching will be the 2022 Daytona 500 in February.

Till then, routine Camaros, Mustangs and Camrys stay in the display rooms and on the streets. Don‘t be tricked.

“It looks like you can drive it down the road,” Logano stated. “The cops might pull you over, but it has the same look. To that point, I say: Finally.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.