Next Gen car work continues in wind tunnel, on track

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NASCAR continues to refine the Next Gen car less than 10 weeks before the vehicle will make its debut in the Feb. 6 Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

NASCAR has a wind tunnel test scheduled Friday. That test had previously been scheduled.

The sanctioning body also has a three-car test scheduled Dec. 10 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval. A car from each manufacturer (Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota) is expected to be at the test. The test is expected to take what was learned from the Dec. 3 wind tunnel test and see how it works on track compared to what drivers experienced during the Nov. 17-18 test at Charlotte.

An organizational test is scheduled Dec. 15 and 17 at the Charlotte oval. That test will incorporate any potential changes that come from the wind tunnel session and Dec. 10 test.

NASCAR is putting a day between on-track sessions at Charlotte in December to allow for teams and series officials to evaluate data.

The Charlotte test takes the place of a test scheduled Dec. 14-15 at Phoenix Raceway. The Phoenix test has been moved to Jan. 25-26, replacing the test scheduled those days at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

An organizational test Jan. 11-12 at Daytona International Speedway remains as scheduled.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed the Next Gen car when he spoke to the media Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway.

“Until it comes out and we’re actually at the L.A. Coliseum, we’re at the (Daytona) 500, with race cars on the racetrack, I’ll continue to be concerned,” he said.

“But, I would say Steve O’Donnell (NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer), (John) Probst (NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation), Brandon Thomas (NASCAR Managing Director of Vehicle Systems), that group, working with our teams, working with our (manufacturing) partners, have done an incredible job getting us to this point.

I’m super proud of the group. I think this is a really important milestone for NASCAR. We have to get it right.”

At the Nov. 17-18 test on the Charlotte oval, speeds were down compared to qualifying speeds in May with the previous car. The top speed at the test, 175.718 mph by Aric Almirola, would have ranked 28th in Coca-Cola 600 qualifying in May.

NASCAR allowed teams to replace the 8-inch spoiler with a 7-inch spoiler on the second day of the test to help increase the speed.

The test was the first time some drivers had been in the Next Gen car on an oval. Many drivers and teams spent the test learning how the car handled and not focused on running a qualifying lap.

“It’s up to each team to individually tailor the cars to make themselves better, and then we have to see how the cars will do in traffic, still,” Kurt Busch said at the Charlotte test on Nov. 17. “I still think that is going to be an interesting game.”

As for the speeds, Busch said at the test: “We could pick up 2 seconds just by changing the tapered spacer and then it’s going to put the cars on the edge of other things.”

During the November test at Charlotte a few cars ran in a small group to see how the car reacted in traffic. Drivers have much to learn, running on a larger tire and with limited sideforce.

“Certainly the lack of sideforce, that will be something they’re going to have to get used to, with respect with how the car drives and how it recovers and how, when it’s loose, how far you can let it get loose and let it slide and things like that,” Probst said Nov. 17 at the Charlotte test.