There have been numerous comments from drivers about the Next Gen car and communication about it from NASCAR in 2022. Now the sanctioning body’s president, Steve Phelps, has taken the blame for these issues.
Phelps made the comments on Sunday, October 9. He appeared on the NBC pre-race show at Charlotte Motor Speedway and covered multiple topics with Marty Snider, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Burton. Chief among them was the topic of safety in the Next Gen era.
“As great as the Driver Advisory Council has been, nothing is as good as having an all-driver meeting,” Phelps told Snider, Burton, and Earnhardt. “We probably should have had one months ago to try to deal with the safety issues and what the drivers were feeling in the race car, so that’s on me. With that said, we’re going to have all-driver meetings for the rest of the year, so we’re going to do them on a weekly basis.”
Phelps Took Exception to Some Previous Comments
There have been multiple comments from drivers during the 2022 Cup Series season, including Kevin Harvick who said that “safety can’t be about money” during a long media availability at Kansas Speedway. Other drivers have mentioned that fixing safety concerns is expensive.
Phelps heard some of these statements and issued a response during his appearance on NBC’s pre-race show. He indicated that nothing ranks higher on the list of importance for the sanctioning body.
“Safety is the single most important thing for NASCAR,” Phelps said. “I think we have a two-decade history that would suggest that is a true statement. So are there things we need to do to this race car to make it safer? Yes, particularly in the rear of the car. But there also are things with this car that are safer than the last car. So we are going to continue to iterate on the car working with our drivers.”
Phelps continued and provided some information about the crash test that took place in Ohio last week. He explained that the crash into the rear of the car created a bigger energy transfer into the car itself rather than the driver. This has been one of the biggest concerns for the drivers, and Phelps indicated that there is a solution.
The Safety Concerns Will Continue to Create Conversations
While the NASCAR drivers and executives have not seen eye to eye during the 2022 season, they were able to clear the air during the race weekend. They all took part in a 75-minute meeting on October 8 before the Xfinity Series race and discussed multiple topics.
These conversations will continue, according to Phelps. He told the NBC crew that there will be meetings with all of the drivers each week for the remainder of the season as they attempt to make some progress for the future of the sport.
“I thought the meeting was incredibly productive,” Phelps said. “The drivers were candid. We showed them a path forward on the rear of the car to take out some of the stiffness that exists and a bigger crush panel. But overall, we want to hear what they have to say. We care about what they say, and we’re going to continue to iterate on the car to make it safer.”