According to a report by The Athletic, the COVID-19 pandemic will result in the delay of the competitive debut of NASCAR’s next gen car for the NASCAR Cup Series. The next model of Cup Series car was originally expected to make its competitive debut in the 2021 season-opening Daytona 500. Now, the car is expected to debut later in the season.
NASCAR has had two meetings with groups of Cup Series team owners this week to discuss, among other things, a potential debut date for the new car. The sanctioning body, reportedly, met with members of the Race Team Alliance [RTA] Monday and non-RTA team owners Wednesday. Another topic of conversation also, reportedly, was options for rescheduling races postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
An announcement regarding the new car is expected sometime this week.
Testing of the new car also has been put on hold by the pandemic. Versions of the car already have undergone single-car tests with four drivers at four tracks. Austin Dillon drove the car in a test at Richmond Raceway, Joey Logano at Phoenix Raceway and Erik Jones at Homestead-Miami Speedway. William Byron was the most recent driver to pilot a version of the still-in-the-works car. He tested the car at Auto Club Speedway in early March.
The latest version of the new car includes such features as an aluminum, single-lug wheel and a sequential gearbox. NASCAR already has confirmed that the next gen car will have the aluminum, single-lug wheel.
“I like the car, I think it’s really cool,” Byron’s crew chief Chad Knaus said, as quoted in a NASCAR.com article. “It’s definitely taking a step in the right direction in terms of modern motorsports, so I think that’s great. We have a lot to learn as an industry about what this car is capable of. I really want to acknowledge RCR [Richard Childress Racing] and NASCAR; they did a fantastic job in getting this car built to get it out here. I thought it was spectacular.”