The COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic has brought a temporary halt to NASCAR’s testing of its Next Gen car for its Cup Series. As a result, the competitive debut of the new car will be delayed until 2022. Originally, the car was expected to hit the track in 2021, making its competitive debut in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation Jeff Probst said. “The decision was made in collaboration with the OEMs and team owners. We will continue to develop the Next Gen car, and a revised testing timeline will be shared when more information is available.”
The new car in progress has undergone four single-car tests — by Austin Dillon at Richmond Raceway, Joey Logano at Phoenix Raceway, Erik Jones at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, most recently, William Byron at Auto Club Speedway in early March.
“I like the car. I think it’s really cool,” Byron’s crew chief Chad Knaus said, as quoted in a NASCAR.com article, after Byron’s test. “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.”
The latest tested version of the car included a sequential gearbox and an 18-inch aluminum alloy wheel with a single, center lug. NASCAR already has announced that the transition to the 18-inch, single-lug aluminum wheel with the introduction of the Next Gen car.