According to NASCAR.com, officials are targeting a 2021 release for the Gen-7 car in what is currently known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The news broke Monday (Feb. 4) as the series begins final preparations for Daytona Speedweeks.
“I think it’s important to note that the reason we headed in this direction with the 2019 rules package was really to line us up for where we wanted to go in the future from a racing standpoint, both on track from a car’s look and feel and then under the hood from an engine perspective,” Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing officer, said in explaining the move.
The 2019 rules package will be used as a bridge between the current Gen-6 cars and the upcoming Gen-7 vehicles in an attempt to bring new manufacturers into the sport. Only Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota have been participating since Dodge left in 2012, the same year the Gen-6 car was introduced.
“If you look at a lot of the dialogue we’ve had with our existing OEMs, potential OEMs, there’s a lot of interest to do some things differently in terms of making the cars look even more like they do on the street, making sure that we can evolve some of our engine technology as well,” O’Donnell added.
“The goal for us is to roll this out fairly quickly with an accelerated timeline to 2021.”
Changes in engine horsepower, together with design changes, should mean a closer resemblance to a normal production car on the highway and what Chase Elliott drives on the track.
Ford is rolling out the Mustang in the MENCS this season, replacing their Fusion model. But Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance, stated the company is on board with creating a new generation of vehicles.
“In terms of what you see on the outside of the car, we’d like to see a few changes — nothing major, but a few changes underneath the car for a little bit of technical relevance,” Rushbrook said.
Doug Yates of Roush Yates Engines agrees that automotive racing technology must evolve as time goes on.
“When we open up the hood five or 10 years from now, it needs to look different than it does today,” he explained. “It needs to look more production-based, and that’s exciting. There’s a lot of questions there. The main one is… what does that cost?”
Yates also stated he believes electrification of the cars could be on the way at some point in the future.
The current models used in the MENCS are the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the Toyota Camry.