NASCAR Planning Changes for Short Tracks & Road Courses

Martinsville Speedway

Getty NASCAR Cup Series drivers race at Martinsville Speedway.

The Next Gen car made its debut in 2022 with a strong showing at intermediate tracks. Now NASCAR is planning changes to fix road courses and short tracks after they left something to be desired.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer, provided the insight during the annual State of the Sport address ahead of the Cup Series championship. He and NASCAR President Steve Phelps faced numerous questions, including one about the lackluster action away from superspeedways and intermediates.

“I think you have to start with really looking at a small sample size in terms of what we’ve been able to go out there and do, particularly on the short tracks,” O’Donnell said during the media session.

“For sure looking at some aero changes for both short tracks and road courses. We have a lot of dialogue going on with the drivers in terms of potentially looking at some power things. I think that’s a little more complicated.”

Another NASCAR Project Has Provided Information

Charlotte Roval

GettyNASCAR drivers race at the Charlotte Roval.

There are multiple ways that NASCAR has examined some potential changes for the 2023 season. There was a tire test at Martinsville Speedway ahead of the playoffs. There has also been some information from a separate project.

“There are some things we’ve looked at even through Garage 56 that we found from an aero standpoint that could be put in place as early as next year for both short tracks and road courses,” O’Donnell continued.

“The good news is continuing to dial in on the intermediates which we believe we’re in a really good spot, but then really focus on the short tracks and road courses. A lot of work being done collectively to focus on both areas.”

Garage 56 is a special designation that applies to the single-entry class reserved for innovative cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The designation allows for the opportunity to test new technology during the endurance race without taking away an entry from another competitor.

NASCAR has plans on taking on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023 with the Garage 56 designation. The vehicle will be a Chevrolet fielded in collaboration with Hendrick Motorsports.

Improving Short Track Action Will Be Critical

GettyChris Buescher leads at Bristol Motor Speedway.

There is still a considerable amount of work to do before the 2023 season begins. Fixing the safety concerns is the top line item on the worksheet, but improving the action at short tracks is up there as well.

There are already several short-track races in the 2023 season. The drivers will take on Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway two times each.

They will also have one true short-track race at Bristol Motor Speedway and trips to one-mile tracks at Phoenix Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

There are already several races that will benefit from some package changes, and there will be another in 2024. Auto Club Speedway will undergo a reconfiguration after the 2023 race and it will become NASCAR’s latest short track. If the package isn’t fixed by the first race at the California track, there will be even more critical comments lobbed at the Next Gen car.

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