NASCAR ‘done with development’ of Next Gen car a year from its debut


NASCAR says that “we’re done with the development” of the Next Gen car about a year before the vehicle makes its debut.

Series officials discussed the Next Gen car, driver approval process, rule changes and more in a wide-ranging session with media members Monday.

Teams are expected to begin receiving their Next Gen cars in mid-June, said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of innovation and racing development.

He said there are Goodyear tire tests scheduled at Richmond, Darlington, Texas and Bristol, with the Richmond test slated for March 16-17.

Probst also said manufacturers will have seven wheel force tests to gather data for teams this year. A test for all teams is expected shortly after the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Roval. Two other tests are scheduled after the season ends in early November.

“As far as us just running the car for the sake of gathering data, we’re done the with the development of the car at this point,” Probst said.

The Next Gen car has been tested nine times:

The car is scheduled for its first crash test in the second quarter of this year at the University of Nebraska’s facility, Probst said.


After questions about driver ability in the Cup Series last year, NASCAR addressed its driver approval process entering this season.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said the sanctioning body will act as needed.

“Over our history, we’ve always had those questions,” O’Donnell said. “I think if anything, we’re looking at the charter members as they exist. We’ve sent a note out to the teams reminding them of what we expect to be competing at the highest levels.

“If we want to market ourselves as the best drivers in the world, we need to ensure that the drivers who are out there and being approved consistently go out there and perform. If we feel like someone puts the sport at risk, we’re going to react and we have reacted.”

Said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition: “We do go though a pretty stringent process (in approving drivers). We’ll work up through tracks. If a guy is questionable at all, we’ll have him do a 1-mile (track) race or whatever and watch him. We’re not going to just approve anybody for superspeedways straight off the truck.

“I know there have been some questions. I’ve asked some questions internally about our process and should it be more stringent. It’s something that we look at and take very seriously. I think that you may see some new things coming before too long. Definitely not something that we take lightly.”


One rule change this year will be how NASCAR interprets a crew member behind pit wall touching pit road.

Previously, if a crew member behind the wall reached out for a tire, lost their balance and touched pit road to keep from falling, NASCAR ruled that was a violation and penalized the team.

NASCAR adjusted the rule (with the change in bold) to state: “Crew member(s) purposely assisting (e.g. rolling tires, signboard) from the equipment side of pit road, either in the vehicle’s assigned pit box or in an adjacent pit box, may not substantially or purposely contact the pit road surface and may be counted towards the six crew member total.”

What does that mean?

“If a guy is reaching over the wall to grab a tire, slips and puts his hand down on pit road, that is no harm, no foul,” Miller said. “If the team dreams up a way to have the guy hanging over the wall and is out there doing something that we feel is unsafe or not in the spirit of competition, then we will call a penalty for that.”

NASCAR also will bring back the wheel well template to be used in inspection.

Said Cup Series Director Jay Fabian: “That is one of the areas of the race car that I felt like we needed to be a little bit more buttoned up on. Certainly introducing a few more analog tools to make sure that is the shape it’s supposed to be, that’s the target. Make sure everybody is the same and we have a good level playing field for all the competitors.”


NASCAR has reminded drivers about wearing masks at events and that they can be penalized for not doing so properly, said John Bobo, NASCAR vice president, racing operations.

“It has been addressed,” said Bobo, who oversees NASCAR’s coronavirus protocols. “We have talked to the drivers about ways they can earn penalties and teams. Not only do you need to wear a mask, you need to wear a good mask. You need to wear double the mask if you can, especially as the rate of transmission can increase with some of these variants. We’ve talked to them about the reality of Florida, as they come to Florida, and all the more reason to keep them safe. It is also their advantage to keep competing.”

On the issue of not testing competitors for COVID as part of the standard before arriving at a track, Bobo said:

“One of the things that makes us different than other sports is a lot of sports have the ability to create a bubble and keep people in isolation for a period of time, because the people on certain teams don’t change. The number of people that it takes to hold a NASCAR race are pretty fluid and change.

“One of the decisions we made early on was to treat the event as if there were COVID-positive people among us and act accordingly. That’s why we take masking and the protocols so seriously, and do everything we can to enforce that.

“We added rapid testing toward the end of last year and we use it quite a bit. We anticipate we’ll continue to use it aggressively as needed when situations arise, and we’re contract tracing or we’re dealing with known exposures and things like that.”

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.