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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Fire on Fridays: Next Gen Car Needs to Suit Fans Old & New

The Next Gen (formerly known as Gen 7) NASCAR racecar finally took its first laps on a racetrack this week.

Austin Dillon and his Richard Childress Racing squad were the lucky folks to be the first ones to test the car this week at Richmond Raceway, with little to no concrete expectations entering the test.

In a press release after the test session, NASCAR said there will be many changes, including to the body. So that body you were looking at, as if you were dropping acid, is probably not we’re going to see.

And that might be a good thing.

If you analyze the car that Dillon tested, it’s really not much different from what we see in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series today. The car is sealed to the ground, and it has a ridiculously large spoiler.

Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what fans, both old and new, have been asking for?

Fortunately, NASCAR is still working with manufacturers on the look of the car. Only two prototypes of the Next Gen car have been built, meaning plenty of changes can still come. The main part of this test was to figure out the kinks of the fresh technology and new systems in it.

“While many components on the current versions of the car will remain, some major elements – including each OEMs body design – are still in development,” NASCAR said in its statement.

“The test has met – and even exceeded – our expectations, and we are well on our way to developing the final iteration of the car,” John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vp of innovation and racing development, added.

But NASCAR simply can’t afford to have another Car of Tomorrow mishap (remember that thing?). It can’t even afford to do what it did entering this year, only having small mock races to determine how the car will be in race conditions. When NASCAR tested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway over the offseason, it literally live streamed just how bad the action was and the lack of passing. Changes? Nonexistent after that. The debate of whether or not the high-downforce/drag package has worked or not is subject for another column.

NASCAR needs to be diligent in this process. Sure, a couple of simulator tests can help those in power determine whether or not this Next Gen racecar will be a hit on the track or not. However, nothing on a simulator can do the sport justice at this point.

Let’s knock this car out of the park. Get fans to the tracks where testing occurs. Get feedback. If people don’t like how it looks or how it races, do something before it’s too late.

This car needs to combine the taste of those fans who want to see it look like a traditional stock car, all while attracting new fans by giving it a sleek look.

Let’s hope NASCAR lifts the cars off the ground a bit, changes up the design to look like a street car and actually make an aero package for this machine that will be entertaining.

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About Joseph Wolkin

Joseph Wolkin
Joseph started with Fronstretch in Aug. 2014 and worked his way up to become an editor in less than a year. A native of Whitestone, New York, Joseph writes for NASCAR Pole Position magazine as a weekly contributor, along with being a former intern at Newsday and the Times Beacon Record Newspapers, each on Long Island. With a focus on NASCAR, he runs our social media pages and writes the NASCAR Mailbox column, along with other features for the site.

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4 comments

  1. Avatar

    If they are supposed to be stock cars, make them look like the street versions! Otherwise, go the super late model type, which would make them look like wedges going around the track and let them have at it. The current Camaros, Mustangs, and Camrys look absolutely nothing like their street counterparts!

  2. Avatar

    Oh yeah, that ugly POS which can be transformed
    from Chevy to Ford to Toyota with just a quick
    grille decal switch is going to bring fans back in
    droves! Is Brian back and supplying everybody
    with weed again? At track attendance will plummet
    even more and the next TV deal ought to be about
    ten to twenty percent of the current one. Years of mismanagement has killed the golden goose!

    • Avatar

      it’s still IROC anyway you look at it SAME old thing IROC IROC IROC is that plain enough HELL put a resistor plate on a resistor plate & charge more for the seat & consecration hell that’s the way to go nascar & tell the fans you are looking out for them

    • Avatar

      NASCAR specifically said this is *not* the body that the new car will use…do people not read/listen?

      The test was not a “reveal” of the finished product, nor was it an aero test of the body.

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