Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Highlights Next Gen Improvements After Latest Test

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Getty Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will have a new primary partner in 2022.

The driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro took part in the latest organizational test featuring the Next Gen NASCAR Cup Series cars. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came away with some strong words about steering and cooling improvements that previously caused concern.

Stenhouse appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin Paint” to discuss his most recent time with the Next Gen car. The veteran driver explained during the interview that they were able to fix the steering issues that surfaced during the two-day session at the Charlotte Roval on October 11-12. He also noted that the temperature in the cars seemed cooler than in past tests.

“We fixed the steering from our previous test that we had, that we struggled with,” Stenhouse explained on November 19. “That was a big positive. It wasn’t hot in the cars. I know that it was a little cooler outside. But from all of the data that NASCAR has and they’ve collected, we got the car cooler inside. So I think that’s another positive.”

Stenhouse added that “it was fun” just driving the Next Gen car around and completing laps. This comment echoed those made in the past by Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, and Corey LaJoie among others, creating optimism about the seventh generation of stock cars.

Stenhouse Sounded Off About Air Impacting Pack Racing

While Stenhouse had positive feedback about how the team fixed the steering and cooling issues, he also talked about other potential problems. He mentioned that he wanted some more “off-throttle time” while on the track. He also talked about the airflow and its potential impact on pack racing.

“The draft was still pretty tough, being behind cars,” Stenhouse continued. “So I think that’s still going to be an issue as far as trying to figure out how the air is going to affect this car differently than it affected last year’s cars.”

Stenhouse is not the only Cup Series driver that mentioned the pack racing and air. Several others spoke about the dirty air and how it might impact races during the 2022 season. Ross Chastain, the driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, specifically mentioned that his car was tighter in turns when he was following William Byron around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I mean, unless we defy physics, the guy out front is gonna have an advantage,” Chase Elliott added on November 18, per NASCAR. “So, if somebody figures out how to defy physics, please let me know. I’d love to meet you. But until somebody figures that out, the front person is always gonna have an advantage. And I don’t think it matters how many aero ducts and parts and pieces we put on these things, it’s never going to give the guy in second an advantage over the guy out front.”

2 More Next Gen Tests Remain Before the Daytona 500

The teams have made major strides during each Next Gen test, but they will only have limited sessions before the Daytona 500. There are two organizational tests remaining on the schedule for the drivers, not counting the dirt test that Truck Series driver Stewart Friesen will conduct.

The next test on the schedule will take place at Phoenix Raceway, the site of the championship race. Teams will head to the one-mile track on December 14-15 and log more laps while making adjustments. They will then head to Daytona International Speedway on January 11-12 for another test. John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation, also told reporters on October 11 that NASCAR has plans for three other organizational tests in 2022.

NASCAR has not provided details about the number of teams that will take part in these organizational tests. The sanctioning body will release a list of expected teams and drivers in the days leading up to each session, but the expectation is that several big names will take part while preparing for the first season with the Next Gen.

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