NASCAR Provides First Look at Next Gen Pack Racing

Denny Hamlin

Getty Denny Hamlin tests the Next Gen Toyota Camry at Daytona International Speedway.

Eight of the top teams in NASCAR headed to Daytona International Speedway on Sept. 7-8 for a Goodyear tire test. The drivers climbed into Next Gen cars, complete with sponsor graphics, and raced each other around the World Center of Racing. Fans could not attend, but NASCAR provided the first look.

The sanctioning body released multiple videos on Twitter on Tuesday, Sept. 7, showcasing the Next Gen Toyota Camry, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Camaro taking laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. NASCAR didn’t show an entire lap from the perspective of the various drivers, nor did it include the broadcast angle. Instead, the organization focused on teases that showed pack racing, complete with the sound of roaring engines.

One video showed Denny Hamlin in a black No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry leading the pack around a turn. Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher and JTG Daugherty Racing‘s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed close behind while Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron made up the third row. Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon followed close behind Byron on the outside line.

Another brief video tweeted out on Sept. 7 showed the drivers going three-wide at the start-finish line. Logano held the middle lane while Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer raced on the outside. A group of Chevrolet drivers lined up in formation and raced along the inside line.

The Drivers Provided Behind-the-Scenes Footage

NASCAR did not provide the only look at the two-day Next Gen test. The respective drivers also took time to update their social media profiles with photos and videos. Dillon showed the No. 3 up on jacks and provided another look at the door numbers in their new position. He also showed that the hood vents will potentially feature vinyl to complete the sponsor scheme each week.

Stenhouse, on the other hand, provided a video on Twitter that featured him sitting in the driver’s seat of the Next Gen No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro. He provided updates about the testing experience and explained that there was even more work that remained ahead of him.

“Day two of testing, sitting in the car,” Stenhouse said in his video. “Made two runs yesterday, it was a good day, felt like we learned a lot. The car drives good, and it’s been a smooth test so far. So that’s really all we were asking for.

“We got this car three weeks ago, and everybody at JTG did a great job putting it together. We’re out here making laps and collecting as much data as we can. We’ve got some more drafting sessions coming up later today, so it should be fun.”

More Tests Will Take Place With the Next Gen Cars

The drafting tests at Daytona International Speedway are only one part of the process. There will likely be several more before the 2022 Cup Series season, especially at some of the other tracks on the Cup Series circuit.

For now, the drivers and their teams will move forward with the data that they collected during the two-day session. Those with teammates, such as Logano and Hamlin, can provide their insights to other people in the building and share what they thought worked and what didn’t.

“We obviously have a list of things to work on coming out of here,” said John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, in a quote sheet distributed to media members. “We have to work on the heat in the car; we have some ideas there. We used the afternoon today to try some big swings at things and found some directions to go, so I feel like we made some really big gains there.

“We’ll probably come back here in January and do another test with more teams, it’s an important track for us to get right. We’ll probably have a good number of teams, possibly 26 or more.”

The drivers will also quickly be able to compare the stock cars when they continue with the 2021 schedule. They will next head to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 11, for the second playoff race of the Round of 16. Hamlin is fresh off a win and looking to sweep the opening round while Logano and Byron are both on a mission to make some moves and punch their tickets to the Round of 12.

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