CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR will make a spoiler change for Thursday’s Next Gen organizational test, seeking to increase the speed of the cars.
NASCAR will cut the spoiler from 8 inches to 7 inches for Thursday’s session on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval. The resulting speed change is expected to be the equivalent of adding 30 horsepower.
John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation, said the adjustment will be made to offset a previous change to the car. To counter the increased heat drivers had experienced in the cars, rear window vents were added to increase air circulation through the cockpit. While reducing the extreme heat in the car, the rear window adjustments add drag and slow the car.
“We’ll run that (Thursday) and see where that gets us,” Probst said of the 7-inch spoiler.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said Wednesday afternoon that the speed “feels pretty slow as far as … lap times go, but when you do have a moment it actually almost feels like you’re going to faster.”
Probst praised the car after Austin Dillon’s crash, which happened a few minutes after the session began at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday. Dillon’s car was in the lower groove when he lost control and the car shot up the track, hitting the SAFER barrier nearly head-on.
Dillon was uninjured.
“It was a really good feeling knowing the car performed as designed,” Probst said. “Looking at the front bumper, it looked like it crushed the way it was designed to do. Talking with him, he felt like it wasn’t anything different than what he’s felt in the past.”
Probst categorized the impact as one “that’s on the more severe side but not what I would call a really severe (hit), probably on the high side to average for a weekend event for somebody that noses it in like that.”
The team sent the car to Richard Childress Racing for repairs. The car was back at the track about eight hours later.
#NASCAR … Austin Dillon timeline today.
9 a.m. ET – Next Gen test begins
9:10 a.m. (*approximate) – He crashed
10:47 a.m. – Wrecked car leaves track for RCR for repairs
6:58 p.m. – Car back at @CLTMotorSpdwy and heads back on track.
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 18, 2021
Probst said that NASCAR did not see any steering box issues, which were prevalent when teams tested on the Charlotte Roval in October. Drivers complained then about vibrations with their steering wheel and raised concerns of what it might be like on the oval – with its higher speeds – if not rectified.
NASCAR had a test last week on the Roval to work though the issue.
Probst said NASCAR consulted with people beyond the series, including those in sports car racing, along with manufacturers.
“We used a lot of (manufacturer) resources to come up with several changes we wanted to make to the steering system to address the vibration,” Probst said.
“We weren’t overly successful replicating it on the dynos, so we felt like to make sure we actually fixed it we wanted to come back over to the Roval. … The first thing we did is we unloaded the cars and made sure that we had still had the problem, which we did, and then started to applying some of the fixes that we had been working on and ended up finding a solution.”
Drivers who spoke to the media Wednesday did not report any steering wheel issues,
Also, Probst said NASCAR will add an organizational test at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the season. NASCAR has organizational tests scheduled for Phoenix (Dec. 14-15), Daytona (Jan. 11-12), Las Vegas (late January), Martinsville (some point after that race) and Homestead.
Probst said that NASCAR is not organizing a mock race in Thursday test session, but some teams have discussed running in a group to see how the car handles in traffic. NASCAR will have live pit stops from 4-5 p.m. ET (the final hour of Thursday’s session).