Jesse Iwuji’s Xfinity team will have deep ties to Wendell Scott’s Hall of Fame legacy


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – There was a poignant interruption during a Monday unveiling of the Xfinity Series Chevrolet co-owned by Jesse Iwuji and Emmitt Smith that will carry a Wendell Scott tribute.

After being acknowledged by moderator and Chevrolet Motorsports vice president Jim Campbell during a news conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Wendell Scott’s son Franklin rose and politely asked for a word.

Stepping to the mic, he singled out one of two No. 34 cars that were parked in the museum’s “Great Hall” atrium – and not the black and green Camaro wrapped with the sponsors that Iwuji also will represent as a driver in 2022.

COFFEE WITH KYLE: The life and times of Wendell Scott

Scott instead gestured behind a stage backdrop to an unmarked blue car, which sat below the Glory Road ramp of brightly colored championship cars covered with corporate logos.

This No. 34 was driven by Wendell Scott, who overcame pervasive racism and a persistent lack of funding to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the first African-American driver to win a Cup Series race.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this sitting there, looking at all the cars in this hall,” said Franklin, one of many family members on his father’s crew. “The only car in here that doesn’t have a sponsor on it is that 34. The only car. My father never had sponsorship, but he reached the pinnacle of his career off determination and guts and perseverance and humility. These are words he taught us to use.

Franklin Scott (far left) and Warrick Scott (far right) attended a news conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to unveil the No. 34 Xfinity Series Chevrolet co-owned by Jesse Iwuji and Emmitt Smith (Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing).

“Jesse, you have an opportunity. Just think what Wendell Scott could have done if he had any of the sponsors on (your) car. Everything we earned went back into the race team and family. He was a great man. So you are following in the footsteps of one of the vanguards of the sport and a giant in the racing world. I just want to encourage you to give yourself patience to learn because you’re not going to learn it all in one year.”

Scott then encouraged an audience that included NASCAR fans to support Iwuji’s rookie season.

“Give him an opportunity because there are going to be detractors,” Scott said. “There are going to be critics. So you have to ignore them and don’t ever let quitting be in the plan.”

Iwuji and his team, which is co-owned by Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, vowed they were committed for the long term. They also preached patience in revealing details Monday of their first-year effort that still is ramping up since its assembly began five months ago.

With eventual plans to relocate to the Charlotte or Mooresville area, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports currently is working out of Johnny Davis Motorsports’ shop in Gaffney, South Carolina, and obtaining parts from a few Xfinity teams.

Iwuji said his team has acquired points from JDM to help ensure he makes the Feb. 19 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. The No. 34 that was rolled Monday into the NASCAR Hall of Fame was the car that Iwuji will race on the 2.5-mile oval in less than two weeks. A backup car still was being built.

“We fully expect to be in the race,” said Iwuji, who has made five career Xfinity starts (with a best finish of 23rd) and 15 in the truck series (with a best of 17th). “It’ll be nerve-wracking running Daytona the first time for me in the Xfinity Series. To be in the draft with highly experienced drivers and competing, we’ll be finding our way, figuring out where we fit. It’s going to be tough and won’t be easy, but it’s going to be fun.”

Crew chief Jason Houghtaling said the new team will have the points from the JDM Chevy that finished 26th in the 2021 car owner standings. Engines will be supplied by Hendrick Motorsports.

“I’m not going to say we’ll be a top 10 or top 15 team,” said Houghtaling, a veteran of Cup and Xfinity teams owned by Rick Ware, B.J. McLeod, Carl Long and Mike Harmon. “We’ll finish every race and make every race. We won’t be anything if Jesse doesn’t get experience. His experience is very limited, so our goals and aspirations are to make him better. That’s first and foremost.

“I’ve had to do a lot with a little. I’m very proud of where I came from, and I can help lead these guys and teach them a few things. The Hendrick engine and cars and things they’ve given are a cherry on top for me. It’s going to pay off. My past is definitely going to help me get where we’re trying to go.”

Asked about the team’s expectations in Year 1, Smith immediately replied “Finish,” which Iwuji reaffirmed.

“In order to finish first, you must first finish, so our goal is to finish every race, but as we’re finishing each race, work on slowly progressing to get faster, get better and be more consistent,” said Iwuji, a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve who is juggling a racing career with his duties in the armed services (he took a redeye from Los Angeles to Monday’s announcement after Navy drills last weekend). “Because we want to find our way into the top 20 consistently. We’re working hard to get that experience. The second time we go to tracks, we’ll be better.”

Said Smith: “We got a late start, but we’re here. As Jesse gets more comfortable around the car and the crew get comfortable with him, then we’ll see where we are. I’m sure if there’s an opportunity to fly to the top, we’ll fly to the top. I’m excited about where we are.”

Dr. Eric Warren, director of NASCAR Programs for General Motors, told NBC Sports that the team would be supported by GM’s new Charlotte Technical Center, which will employ more than 100 engineers when it opens in May. “Us writing a check isn’t going to help a young team like this, but our experience — and I’ve got hundreds of people that have won championships and races on the Chevrolet side — really that’s where our strength is going to be,” Warren told NBC Sports.

Campbell told NBC Sports that Chevrolet wanted “to give a small startup team an opportunity to grow quickly and get their feet underneath them” by helping Iwuji and Smith, who met when Smith was part of a company sponsoring Iwuji’s Xfinity debut at Texas Motor Speedway. Playing youth football in the Dallas suburbs during the late 1990s, Iwuji, 34, wore a No. 22 jersey in honor of the star Cowboys  running back.

“Their partnership is amazing,” Campbell said. “It’s going to be a journey. I think it’s going to be Jesse learning a lot about having a consistent car at many tracks he hasn’t been to with a crew that’s supporting him. Previous to this, he had races here and there but didn’t the repetition and consistent support. Emmitt loves performance, but his expectation is that the team’s progression will go up over time. It’s a long season, and they’ll learn a lot and have some ups and downs.”

Houghtaling said he intentionally chose a crew of team members who are eager to learn and “to help push our message.

“We are a bunch of younger guys what want to make people proud,” he said. “We want to do the best we can for our partners and manufacturer, but more importantly, we want to do the best we can for Wendell Scott and his heritage. It’ll be a whole lot different than taking just a number to the track. Now I get to take that number to Daytona, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

This will be the Iwuji’s second affiliation with the number. His ARCA debut at Daytona in 2018 also was in the No. 34, which he raced in four more races.

“With everything Wendell did to pave the way for African-Americans in the future, we just felt it would be fitting,” Iwuji said. “Jumping into Xfinity, we just thought it would be a great opportunity on a bigger stage. Now we have more support and people rooting for us and trying to help us succeed. Why not use this opportunity to inspire others and continue to motivate and bring diversity to the sport with the No. 34, which has had so much meaning with Wendell and everything he’s done for the sport.”

The Scott family has remained active in the NASCAR industry, particularly since Wendell’s 2014 election to the Hall of Fame.

Jesse Iwuji Motorsports currently is operating out of Johnny Davis Motorsports’ shop in South Carolina. The team will have engineering support from Chevrolet during its debut Xfinity Series season (Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing).

They celebrated Bubba Wallace becoming the first Black driver to win in a NASCAR national series on October 2013 at Martinsville Speedway (just west of the family’s roots in Danville). When Wallace won at Talladega last October to become the first Black winner in the Cup series since Scott, he shared the moment with Frank Scott in a celebratory phone call.

But having an African-American driver behind the wheel of the No. 34 will establish an even stronger connection.

“It is a proper homage to Scott Racing and not just the sacrifices my grandfather put in, but my father as well,” Warrick Scott, Frank’s son and CEO of the Wendell Scott Foundation, told NBC Sports after also attending the Monday announcement. “He’d been working in the pits from such a young age. With what we do at the Wendell Scott Foundation with STEM education, this is what helps push it forward. This is very important to us.”

In honor of Black History Month, the Wendell Scott Foundation will hold its annual legacy gala Feb. 12 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, awarding scholarships and presenting driver Rajah Carruth with a trailblazer award to highlight increased minority involvement in racing.

Iwuji and Smith also have ambitious plans for their team to be an “opportunity generating system” for diversity by partnering with lower-income communities on eSports and initiatives to further youth interest in science, technology engineering and math (STEM). Campbell said Chevrolet also would be working with Iwuji’s team on hosting STEM events at the track (as the manufacturer has for two decades with the Urban Youth Racing School and more recently with Rev Racing).

“We share that common interest” with the team,” Warrick said. “These things are exactly what it takes to further integrate my grandfather’s legacy into pop culture. It adds an additional layer of connectivity for any driver who’s a minority who comes after him. As Bubba has experienced that, other drivers will experience that oomph to it. A rising tide floats all boats.”

It also could help solve the sponsorship problem that dogged Wendell Scott’s career.

“The world has changed a lot from when we couldn’t get any sponsorship,” Franklin Scott told NBC Sports as he held his left thumb and index finger 6 inches apart. “We’ve got a book at home that thick. We call it the ‘Book of Disappointments.’ It’s filled with letters and interviews from when my father went to Detroit and begged them, ‘Just give me some help.’ Couldn’t get it. Signs of the time.

“We’re living in a different era now. Hopefully, things are better in a lot of ways. And things haven’t changed a lot, too. But we’re just here to encourage (Iwuji) and hope he’s going to do well. I told him don’t expect success overnight. It doesn’t happen like that. Just to be there and participate means a lot.”

The face of NASCAR ownership has begun to change over the past year with Michael Jordan and Pit Bull entering the Cup Series, and Smith said their presence impacted his involvement.

Wendell Scott’s famous No. 34 served as the backdrop while Jesse Iwuji and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith announced the details of their new NASCAR Xfinity Series team at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing).

“Of course it did,” he said. “When you know people you can hitch your wagon to and help support, it makes a big difference. Jesse created an opportunity for me to come in and be part of it, and here I am. So I’m excited that NASCAR really has taken a leap of faith as well as creating opportunities for others.

“I think by them doing that, there’s going to be some folks out there that may not agree with it. But that’s OK. They don’t want to change. They want things to stay the same. If you want things to stay the same, you’re going to regress. If you want them to progress, you have to change. Change is something most people are scared about, but in this particular case, change creates opportunities for us to get better. Embrace change, and you can grow, we can grow.

“NASCAR is supporting what we’re doing. I think the country will, too, as well because it’s a sport. You’ve just got a different driver going around the track and trying to compete like any other driver. You’re going to have your favorites. Hopefully, someday we become your favorite. It’s just that simple.”

Friday 5: Clash at Coliseum provides a reset for RFK Racing


Mired in traffic was not where Chris Buescher expected to be. Sure, he knew that racing 22 cars on a quarter-mile track inside a stadium that has hosted the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Series would put him in tight confines, but when the green flag waved for last year’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Buescher was in traffic on the freeway.

He was headed to the airport — along with the rest of RFK Racing. 

Both Buescher and team owner Brad Keselowski failed to make last year’s feature, sending them home earlier than expected.

“A punch to the gut,” Buescher told NBC Sports.

NASCAR’s return to the Coliseum for Sunday’s Clash is not a redemption tour for RFK Racing, said Jeremy Thompson, the team’s vice president of race operations. He calls it a reset.

That’s what last year was thought to be with Keselowski leaving Team Penske to become an owner/driver of an organization that had gone more than four years without a points victory before 2022. The Clash was a chance for RFK Racing to show its new direction.

Instead, RFK Racing and Spire Motorsports were the only multi-car teams not to have a car in the feature.

“Yes, it was not a points race, but it just looked bad,” Buescher said. “And it was bad. It hurt our feelings more than anybody else’s, I promise.”

Through that disappointment, lessons were learned.

“We didn’t have a lack of hunger that was holding us back,” Keselowski said of last year’s Clash. “We had a lack of understanding our vehicle dynamics. Understanding was just not good enough on a lot of levels.

“We continue to invest in resources and people to continue to push that forward to where we can go to events like that and feel that we’re a threat to win and we’re not just trying to make the race.

“I don’t think I understood that when I came in, where we were at as a company on the vehicle dynamics side.”

It was clear immediately that Buescher and Keselowski were in trouble. Buescher was 21st on the speed chart in practice; Keselowski was 33rd of 36 cars. 

“The car bounced so bad that I thought we were going to rip the transmission right out,” Buescher said of last year’s Clash weekend. “We spent all of practice trying to make the car just drive in a circle vs. trying to make it faster. We missed … before we ever left (the shop).”

Said Thompson about last year’s Clash: “I felt like our effort going into that was exceptionally high. We left no stone unturned. We just turned over some of the wrong stones.”

Two weeks later, both Keselowski and Buescher won their qualifying races at Daytona, but there was much work to do to overcome flaws with other parts of their program.

“We’re pushing really hard on vision and values of what it takes to be a high performer at this level, whether that is getting all the details right in the shop or on the road,” Keselowski said.

RFK Racing learned from its struggles early in the season, particularly with its short track program. Buescher, who had never placed better than 16th at Phoenix at the time, finished 10th there last March, a little more than a month after the Clash. He called his top 10 that day “a small win.”

Progress continued but it was not quick. Buescher placed third at Richmond last August before winning the Bristol night race in the playoffs. Keselowski was seventh at New Hampshire last July and won the first stage at the Bristol night race in September before a flat tire ruined his chances.

Keselowski acknowledges that turning RFK Racing into a team that can contend weekly for wins will take some time, but he sees progress.

“We’re not everywhere we need to be, but we definitely have a plan to get there,” he said. “Navigating that plan is challenging, but we’re on a path.”

2. Why not more horsepower?

NASCAR will take what it learned in last week’s Phoenix test to the wind tunnel on Feb. 13. If the wind tunnel test of short track enhancements goes well, changes could be implemented before the April 2 race at Richmond.

The changes being tested in the wind tunnel are a smaller spoiler (2 inches) and some adjustments to the underbody of the car. 

Still, one suggestion drivers often make is to give them more horsepower.

“I think there’s a misconception that we could take the existing engines and just throw 200 horsepower in it,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, in response to a question from NBC Sports. 

“We do have multiple-race engines today that we have to keep in mind. (More horsepower) is something that we are actively discussing, but, obviously, we don’t do that in a vacuum. We do that with the engine builders.

“But anybody that has been around, we’ve raced high horsepower and low downforce before and ended up at some point in time deciding to go away from that to get more entertaining racing. … I think we’re open to entertaining any horsepower gains that we can get with our current (engine) architecture, but anything beyond that is actually not something that can happen quickly.”

Probst later said that keeping the engines in the current horsepower range could prove helpful for any manufacturer looking to join the sport.

“One of the reasons we landed on the horsepower range we’re in now is to try to land in areas that have existing racing engines designed for them, similar to our current (manufacturers),” Probst said. “We’re not hiding from the fact that we would like to encourage some new (manufacturers) to come in. That is part of the equation for that whole thing. I’m not saying it’s the driving reason, but it is a consideration.”

3. Crossing the line

The quarter-mile oval in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will provide plenty of chances to hit bumpers, doors and other parts of the car Sunday.

But there’s a line between short track racing and racing without respect. 

For Ryan Preece, who is running his first race in the No. 41 for Stewart-Haas Racing this weekend, there is a clear divide.

“There’s certainly a way to go about it in quarter-mile racing where you can pass somebody without hitting them,” said Preece, a veteran of racing modifieds in bullrings. 

So how does he tell what’s crossing the line on a short track?

“If somebody drives into me getting into the center of the corner, they’re in control of their race car at that point,” Preece said. “So that or door slamming somebody, not even trying to make the corner, are two good examples (of not racing with respect).”

Preece relies on a lesson he learned racing modifieds with how to race in close quarters.

“I’ll never forget this, I was at Thompson (Speedway) and I used (seven-time modified champion) Mike Stefanik up pretty well into Turn 2 with probably six or seven laps to go, trying to chase down the leader. It didn’t happen. 

“I said, ‘Oh, hey man, I’m sorry. I had to do what I had to do for my team.’ He looked at me and said ‘Well, what about my team? What about the guys I race with?’ 

“I think that day really helped me understand that side of things. You want to race with as much respect as you possibly can. There’s a way to do it, a way to race somebody hard but not overstep the line.”

4. On the same page

Ty Dillon moves to Spire Motorsports this season as a teammate to Corey LaJoie.

Dillon will drive the No. 77 car, which has never finished in the top 30 in car owner points since its debut in 2019. The best the car placed was 31st in owner points in 2021.

Dillon says he has confidence in building the program based on Spire Motorsports’ approach.

“We aren’t unrealistic about where we are,” Dillon told NBC Sports.

But he also said that management has workable goals.

“We said, ‘Hey, here’s where we stand in the spectrum of the race teams,’ ” Dillon said. “Here’s our goals. Here’s what we believe we can accomplish. The structure of what everybody knows and how we’re all pulling in the same direction is a real confidence (boost).

“We know we’re not going to be the team that competes every single weekend for wins, but we’re going to be the best at who we are. Over time, people are going to say, ‘Damn, Spire has taken a step.’ … We’re long-term focused and everybody’s on the same page as that.

“I’ve been a part of a team that said, ‘Hey, we’re wanting to build something.’ Well, you get 10 races in and they haven’t won a race and they’re throwing everybody out the door.”

Dillon said the “realistic, genuine expectation” at Spire Motorsports makes this situation feel different for him.

“The hope and optimism is knowing that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

5. Rule book changes 

NASCAR announced a series of rule changes this week and stated that it would outlaw the video game move Ross Chastain made on the final lap of last year’s Martinsville race. 

NASCAR also made a number of changes to the rule book this week.

Among those:

— Intentionally damaging another car on pit road could lead a Cup driver to be penalized 25-50 points and/or 25-50 owner points and/or $50,000 – $100,000 fine. Last year, intentionally damaging another car on pit road could lead only to a fine of $25,000 – $50,000.

— Member to member confrontations with physical violence and other violent manifestations could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or membership revocation. Last year, such an infraction was listed as incurring a penalty of 25-50 driver and/or team owner points and/or a fine of $50,000 – $100,000. Violations also could result in a race suspension(s), indefinite suspension or termination.

— In the past, if a car could not go when it was time to make a qualifying attempt, it was put on a five-minute clock to do so. That’s changed this year. Now, the clock will be no more than one minute unless it is a safety issue. 

Also, NASCAR listed the length of each Cup race. The inaugural Chicago Street Course Race is scheduled for 100 laps.

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup


Harrison Burton made the first start of his NASCAR Cup Series partnership with the Wood Brothers in the bright lights of Los Angeles.

Burton and the Woods teamed last season as Burton jumped into full-time Cup racing after two full seasons (and four wins) in the Xfinity Series. Their first race was the Clash at the Coliseum, and it was a good start — Burton qualified for the feature and finished 12th on the lead lap.

Then things headed downhill. Crashes at Daytona and Auto Club Speedway left Burton with finishes of 39th and 33rd, respectively. After the first five races of the year, he had four finishes of 25th or worse.

Now, Season Two, and there are higher expectations. Much higher.

MORE: Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

“The start of last year was really, really rough,” Burton told NBC Sports. “It kind of put us in a hole. We got into the wreck in the 500 and crashed at Fontana. Things kind of stack up on you, and all of a sudden you’re buried in points and it’s hard to make it back up.

“But, at the end of the year, three of the last four weekends were big for us (three consecutive top-20 finishes). We need to build off that and try to get out of the West Coast swing and have a clean group of those races. That’s really important. We need to get our average finish up in the first four to five races and not put ourselves in a hole we can’t get out of, and then go from there.”

The Wood Brothers team typically brings strong cars to the Daytona 500, the season’s first point race. Trevor Bayne scored the team’s latest win in stock car racing’s biggest event in 2011.

“We ran well in the 500 last year until I was upside down,” Burton said. “We had a fast car and qualified well and finished third in our duel. Then in the second Daytona race we put ourselves in good position late, so we were in contention in both Daytona races. The speed was there, and the cars drove well.”

The team’s primary goal is to make the playoffs, Burton said. “And we want to be a contender,” he said. “Cup races are so hard. First, you have to contend. Having a good average finish is really important. If you average around 17th or 18th all year, you can kind of point your way into the playoffs, and doing that is on our minds for sure.”

MORE: Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

Burton looks for a strong start in Sunday’s Clash, which will present teams with a mix of the old and the new. Drivers got the experience of racing inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last year, and notes from that race will be useful, but the racing surface will be all new again.

“Every repave has a different tendency,” Burton said. “We’ll see how close it is to last time and how different. Obviously, there is experience on that track, but still it’s a completely new surface, so it’s going to be a mixture of old and new. There’s some knowledge we can build off of, but we kind of have to go into the weekend with that knowledge as tentative because we don’t know if the track is going to be different.”

Burton heads for Los Angeles with a win already under his belt this year. He and teammate Zane Smith, last year’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, won last Friday’s International Motor Sports Association’s Michelin Pilot Challenge Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

Burton drove the finishing laps in the four-hour race. He was third with about 50 minutes to go but moved in front with 22 minutes left when leader Elliott Skeer parked. Burton outran second-place Spencer Pumpelly by .688 of a second for the win.

“I thought we could run well,” Burton said. “After the test we did, we were really fast, so I was pretty excited. But apparently there is a lot of sandbagging that goes on there, so I wasn’t sure where we were. We had to have some things go right for us, and they did.”





Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience


Last week, NASCAR tested the muffler that will be used for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum.

“Heresy,” some fans cried. They argued that it is against the laws of man and nature to muffle racecars. That noise is an integral part of the fan experience. That you’re not supposed to be able to have conversations during races.


The cars will be plenty loud.

Loud is fast

Engines produce power by combusting fuel and air in their cylinders. Each combustion produces high-pressure gases that push the piston up. The same gases make a loud popping sound when they escape the cylinder and finally the exhaust.

At 8,000 rpm, an eight-cylinder engine performs about 520 combustions every second. The faster an engine runs, the more combustions per second and the higher the frequency of the tailpipe noise.

That’s why NASCAR engines sound like grizzly bears and F1 engines, which run at higher speeds, sound more like angry mosquitoes.

Maximum horsepower requires getting the spent gases out of the cylinder as quickly as possible so the next combustion reaction can start. And that’s the problem with mufflers, from a racing perspective.

Mufflers on street cars bounce sound waves from the engine around a metal can. The waves interfere with each other, which decreases the overall volume coming from the exhaust.

Mufflers can also mitigate noise by directing the exhaust through a sound-absorbing material. Borla, the sole-source supplier for this weekend’s muffler, makes commercial racing mufflers that feature a robust sound-absorbing material superior to the commonly used fiberglass.

Both methods slow the exhaust gases — the first more than the second. The ideal racing muffler diminishes sound with minimal horsepower reduction.


Sound-level measurements come in decibels (dB), a unit named after Alexander Graham, not Christopher — and apparently by someone who wasn’t the best speller.

But decibels don’t tell the whole story. Sound intensity decreases with distance, so you need to specify how far away the sound source was.

The easiest way to explain the decibel scale is to relate it to real-world noises, as I’ve done below.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels.

  • Zero dB is the threshold of human hearing.
  • A whisper you can just barely make out is about 20 dB.
  • Most everyday noises are in the 60 dB to 100 dB range but are sometimes louder.
  • Exposure to 130 dBs can be painful.
  • A 150-dB sound can cause permanent hearing damage in a very short time.

Ringing in your ears the day after a rock concert was a badge of honor in high school. Older me wishes I had been a little smarter.

Hair cells — not to be confused with ear hair — facilitate hearing. Sound bends these hair-shaped cells, and the cells convert sound into electrical signals that the brain interprets. Loud sounds can bend these cells so much that they break.

Unlike animals such as sharks, zebrafish — and even the lowly chicken — humans cannot grow new hair cells. Once your hearing is damaged, you can’t get it back.

How loud are racecars?

A noise mitigation study for the proposed Nashville Fairgrounds track measured a single Next Gen car at COTA generating 112 dB on a straightaway at 100 feet.

A 2008 study measured the sound level inside a Gen-6 car to be an average of 114 dB. The study also compared sound in the stands, the infield and the pits.

Let’s add those numbers to our graph.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels, including sound measurements from the Gen-6 and Next Gen cars

  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is about the same loudness as a person screaming at top volume 1 inch from your ear.
  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is just a bit quieter than sitting inside the Gen-6 car.
  • Bristol reached peak sound levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

The graph data suggests that inside the Next Gen car should be around 10 times louder than inside the Gen-6. Some drivers made new earmolds to cope with the additional noise in the cockpit.

Because of the way sound works, the numbers don’t add like you’d expect them to. A Next Gen car might be 112 dB, but two Next Gen cars are more like 115 dB. A full field would be only 5-7 dB louder.

The mufflers won’t muffle much

NASCAR expects a six to 10-dB reduction in sound with mufflers. A 10-dB reduction would make the Next Gen car about as loud as the Gen-6 car was.

Another way of looking at it: Good earplugs reduce sound levels by 25 to 30 dB. Wearing earplugs just barely gets you into the range of being able to hold a conversation if you stand very close to each other and you both shout.

You won’t notice the change in sound inside the track.

You also won’t notice a change in speed this weekend, despite a drop of 30-40 horsepower. The Next Gen car takes around 14 seconds to traverse the L.A. Coliseum’s quarter-mile track. That means cars won’t be going much faster than typical expressway speeds.

If you’re headed out to the track this weekend — despite the mufflers — bring earplugs or over-the-ear headsets. This is especially important for children, as their hearing is more easily damaged.

Joe Gibbs Racing adds young racers to Xfinity program


Connor Mosack, 23, and Joe Graf Jr., 24, each will drive select races in the No. 19 Xfinity Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Mosack, who has a 20-race Xfinity schedule with Sam Hunt Racing this year, will run three races for JGR: Chicago street course (July 1), Pocono (July 22) and Road America (July 29) while also competing in six ARCA Menards Series races for JGR, including Feb. 18 at Daytona.

Graf, who has a 28-race Xfinity schedule with RSS Racing this year, will run five races in the No. 19 Xfinity car for JGR: Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 25), Las Vegas (March 4), Richmond (April 1), New Hampshire (July 15) and Kansas (Sept. 9).

“I made my Xfinity Series debut with JGR last June at Portland and from the moment I made my first lap in their racecar, I realized why they’ve been so successful,” Mosack said in a statement. “Their equipment was second to none and the resources they had in terms of people and their knowledge was incredible.

“Jason Ratcliff was my crew chief at Portland and he’s got a ton of experience. I was able to learn from him before we even went to the track. Just in our time in the simulator, we made some great changes. So, to be back with him for three Xfinity races is going to be really valuable.

“And when it comes to JGR’s ARCA program, it’s the class of the field. After having to race against JGR cars, I’m really looking forward to racing with a JGR car. No matter what track they were on, they were always up front competing for wins. To have that chance in 2023 is pretty special, and I aim to make the most of it.”

Said Graf in a statement about his opportunity with JGR: “Running five races with JGR is a fantastic opportunity for myself and for my marketing partners. I think I can learn a lot from JGR and showcase my skills I’ve been growing in the series in the past three years. 2023 is shaping up to be a great year and I’m pumped to get started with the No. 19 group.”

Ryan Truex has previously been announced as the driver of the No. 19 Xfinity Series car in six races this season for JGR. The remaining drivers for the car will be announced at a later date.

Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18 years old. He went on to win five Legends car championships before moving to Late Model stock cars in 2019. He graduated from High Point University in 2021 with a degree in business entrepreneurship. Mosack’s first Xfinity Series race with Sam Hunt Racing this season will be March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.