NASCAR announced Thursday that the debut of the Next Gen will be pushed back to 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The car was scheduled to have debuted with the 2021 Daytona 500.
NASCAR issued a statement from John Probst, senior vice president of racing innovation:
“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022. 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 Next Gen car has been viewed as a long-term cost-savings measure for teams and will include common parts from vendors. With vendor work halted by stay-at-home orders, the timeline of getting vehicles to teams by July became an issue. Also, with NASCAR intending to run all the races this season, it would put an extra burden on teams to compete and test and prepare the new car for next year.
NASCAR had done four tests with Next Gen car since last year. NASCAR had tests at Richmond Raceway in October with Austin Dillon, at Phoenix Raceway in December with Joey Logano, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in January with Erik Jones and at Auto Club Speedway in March with William Byron.
NASCAR has had all its events postponed from the Atlanta race weekend March 14-15 to the Dover Cup race on May 3 becuase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Next Gen’s car debut will be delayed, according to a report by The Athletic.
The car is scheduled to run its first race in the 2021 Daytona 500, but the The Athletic stated that the date would be pushed back in the 2021 season. The Athletic reported that a decision is expected to be announced this week.
NASCAR did not issue a statement Monday. Series officials are having discussions with teams and suppliers to determine the impact associated with postponements and adjustments of NASCAR’s goals for the new car.
The Next Gen car is viewed as a long-term cost-savings measure for teams and will include common parts from vendors. The Athletic reported that the delay in bulk manufacturing of the chassis and other parts will lead to the delay in the debut of the Next Gen car in 2021.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said last November that teams would take delivery of the car around this July. The COVID-19 pandemic has put that schedule in jeopardy. NASCAR has postponed Next Gen tests at Atlanta, Bristol and Dover. No makeup dates have been announced.
There remain two NASCAR Next Gen tests scheduled: June 2-3 at Charlotte and July 14-15 at Las Vegas. There are eight open tests and four organizational tests scheduled for between August and December. Phelps stated March 17 that NASCAR’s goal was to reschedule its postponed races before the playoffs begin Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway. Doing so could mean doubleheader weekends and/or midweek races, which would further tax teams as they also look to build Next Gen cars for next season.
“Even working ahead and being prepared, I see a lot of sleepless nights in the near future,” Ryan Sparks, crew chief for Corey LaJoie at Go Fas Racing, told NBC Sports earlier this month.
Also, at 5 p.m. ET today, North Carolina’s 30-day stay-at-home order goes into effect and will impact many businesses, including NASCAR teams and vendors in the state.
NASCAR announced Tuesday that it has banned all testing not directly related to the Next Gen car until further notice.
This includes but is not limited to wind tunnels (full and scale models), climatic tunnels, 7/8 posters, K&C rigs (static and dynamic) and driver simulators, etc. NASCAR confirmed that the simulation ban does not include eSports and iRacing.
NASCAR states that shutting down the testing allows the industry to be socially conscious and not feel like they’re putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Next Gen car is scheduled to debut next season.