Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR will kick off the next generation of racing by unveiling the three Next Gen cars set to debut in 2022. Hours later, the fans will see the vehicles on a virtual track. The three cars will highlight the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series iRacing event at Darlington.
The live broadcast of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race will air Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. Fox Sports 1 will provide coverage for the event with Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy calling the action. Larry McReynolds will join the coverage to provide analysis.
The Wednesday night race will feature the biggest names in stock car racing, a list that includes Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Alex Bowman. The race will also include special guests in Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, and the fan vote winner Jesse Iwuji. Wednesday night’s event will mark the second consecutive Pro Invitational Series that Iwuji will join the field after winning the fan vote.
Several drivers have tested out the Next Gen car at various tracks
NASCAR has spent considerable time preparing for the unveiling of the Next Gen car. While it won’t debut until 2022, the new model has taken several laps around some fan-favorite tracks. Drivers such as Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Tyler Reddick among others tested out the new race car and later provided insight into their experiences.
“I really enjoyed using it and got better as it went, learning what it can and can’t do there by the end,” Buescher explained after taking the Next Gen car around Daytona International Speedway in December, per NASCAR Media. “The brakes are terrific and I know this isn’t even a short-track set-up, but they stop extremely well. There’s not going to be any issues getting to pit road and not having the stopping power, just going to be a matter of not spinning out.”
While Buescher praised the brakes following his test at Daytona, Busch highlighted a different aspect. He explained that he loved the new sequential gearbox that forces the drivers to shift up or down depending on which gear they need to reach. The new car no longer features the “H-pattern” shifter from the current and previous iterations.
Reddick had some early experiences at the Track Too Tough to Tame
When the drivers head out onto the virtual Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, there will be one with some experience. Reddick previously tested out the Next Gen car at the notoriously difficult track, even giving it the infamous “Darlington Stripe.” He later explained that there were considerable differences between the current 15-inch tire and the new 18-inch version that will highlight the Next Gen car. Finding the right rubber setup will take some work.
“I heard how much different this car was, and I wanted to see it for myself. Darlington is one of the top 3-4 most challenging tracks we get around,” Reddick said in April. “It might be the most difficult. This track in turns 1-2 is different than 3-4. I really wanted to get to drive this car and see what this thing’s like at a track that I’m comfortable at. I have a good understanding of this track, and what it takes to get rubbered in, and what direction to go to hopefully find us the best tire.”
Reddick will now have the opportunity to take advantage of his test laps during Wednesday night’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race. He will face off with his fellow Cup Series drivers, as well as some special guests, while trying to avoid hitting the wall at full speed.