Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has provided some strong comments about the Next Gen Cup Series cars and their level of safety. He has compared wrecks in these vehicles to hitting a concrete wall.
Harvick provided the comments during his media availability at Michigan International Speedway. He told FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass that hits in the new cars are “a lot harsher” than anything he experienced in any of the other generations. He then used the concrete wall comparison to describe what he and the other drivers feel each week.
“You look at the cars, and you’re like, ‘Oh, man, they look great.’ That’s the problem,” Harvick said. “Nothing flew off of it,’ right? That’s the problem. All that energy is just absorbed to you. So it feels like you get hit by the hammer and the car survives, but is that really what you want? The cars are all together, it looks great, but it doesn’t feel good.”
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Multiple Drivers Have Discussed the Hard Hits
Harvick has been vocal about the hard hits and whether enough emphasis is being placed on the safety aspect. He is not alone. There have been multiple drivers that have weighed in with comments about the new cars and the wrecks.
“Inside the car, it’s different. I don’t care what the numbers say,” Joey Logano said ahead of the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “When you’re inside the car… every single driver gets out and says it hurts more.”
Similarly, Denny Hamlin met with media members at IMS and discussed Kurt Busch’s continued absence due to a crash in qualifying at Pocono Raceway. The driver-owner said that 23XI Racing had all of the data from the season and that Busch had taken hits over 25 Gs. Hamlin continued and said that the data doesn’t match what the drivers are feeling in these wrecks.
“It’s concerning, it’s absolutely concerning for sure,” Hamlin said. “I’ve — knock on wood — been pretty lucky as far as hits this year, but others have taken some beatings. Listen, there’s no denying that any time you build something that’s stronger, the brunt of the load is always going to go to the weakest component, and that is the driver body.”
Hits Will Continue To Spark Conversations
The 2022 season has featured some conversations about the safety of the Next Gen cars. There have been massive incidents that sparked concern before the drivers walked away unscathed. On the flip side, hits that looked minor from the outside led to comments about the harshness of the hits.
One example took place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Larson made a mistake entering Turn 1 and he caught air in the No. 5 before slamming into the side of Ty Dillon’s No. 42 at around 120 mph. This collision was violent and sent both drivers to the infield care center, but they avoided injury.
Another example is the rollover crash from the Coca-Cola 600. Chris Buescher flipped multiple times after a hit from Daniel Suarez sent him sliding through the grass. He also avoided injury in the violent incident.
These multiple incidents have created conversations about the safety of the Next Gen cars and how the drivers respond. These conversations will only continue throughout the rest of the season and into the offseason as NASCAR gathers even more data for the future.