Feedback From NASCAR Next-Gen Car Not As Good After Oval Test
Photo credit: NASCAR
NASCAR's next-gen car is still in the works on the intermediate routes.
That was the consensus after a two-car test with Cup Series champions Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. at the wheel on Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The same drivers took part in a Monday test on the Charlotte Roval configuration and gave largely positive reviews. Busch drove the Chevrolet-powered Prototype 3 built by Richard Childress Racing, and Truex drove the Ford-powered prototype built by the Action Express IMSA team.
Photo credit: NASCAR
"It's been a long three days in Charlotte - it started on Monday with the road test, which we thought went very well," said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of race innovation. "Both drivers were very polite with the way the cars handled the increased brakes and sequential gear stick. It was pretty much expected that they would like this about what we had (Wednesday)."
"The feedback (Wednesday) was honestly not as good as on the road circuit. We have collected a considerable amount of data from the last three days that we will go through on Thursday morning at the R&D center. We will find out what changes we need to make.
"We will be using the help of our OEMs and teams to make the right decisions here when we finalize the design of this car in the next few months."
The two prototypes feature generic bodies that may be replaced with manufacturer-specific shells before the car debuts ahead of the Daytona 500 in 2022. Under the shell, the car has independent rear suspension, a departure from the solid, full-axle rear suspension.
The car features 18-inch lower-profile wheels and tires with a single cleat assembly. It features a sequential shifter instead of the traditional H pattern. It's also completely symmetrical.
The Charlotte tests were the sixth and seventh tests of the car.
It was last on the track August 24-25 when Cole Custer did laps at Dover International Speedway. Prior to that, William Byron did laps at the Auto Club on March 2-3, Erik Jones at Homestead Miami on January 15 and 16, in Phoenix with Joey Logano from December 9-10, and with Joey Logano from October 8-9 Austin Dillon in Richmond.
The tests with Busch and Truex were the first time that NASCAR brought two prototypes onto the track together. The cars were even juxtaposed for a mock restart battle.
"Whenever you get the chance to have someone like Kurt and Martin in the car - veterans who have driven not only the current car but previous generations - they give you a good historical perspective," Probst said.
"It's always good when you can put veterans in the car to use as guides to point you in the right direction. They did a phenomenal job for us; we couldn't ask for more."
The exact settings for downforce and power for the test were not published and the drivers were not made available as they were when testing the road course on Monday. The car borrows many elements from Australian supercars and there are many road course elements built in.
In other words, dialing in the oval racing components would always be the hardest, especially since NASCAR is still a predominantly circular track discipline.
Previous tests on ovals have generated feedback describing the car as "nervous". The cars drove on the oval sections of the Roval configuration, similar to Monday.
Probst will test the P3 car on December 15th and 16th at the Daytona International Speedway for single drives.
"In addition, we are currently working with Goodyear on a tire test plan that is expected to include seven or eight tests in 2021," said Probst. "The OEMs are currently packing the construction work for their own vehicles. We will try to start the WFT (Wheel Force Transducer) test in March, where all three cars will be on the track together."
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