NASCAR announced the news on June 8 and confirmed that the updates will go into effect ahead of the night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. There are several updates to the Next Gen car, which include a mandated steel plate alongside the right-side door bars and the removal of front-clip components to “create a softer and larger crush zone for frontal impacts.”
Teams will have to make modifications to existing parts to soften the front bumper struts, use a modified cross brace, and empty the front ballast box. NASCAR noted that it will incur the costs of these updates.
NASCAR has made multiple safety updates to the Next Gen car after the Larson-Preece crash. The first added six right-side bar gussets to the passenger door area and removed the front clip V-brace in order to limit intrusion into the cockpit area. These changes remain as part of the new updates.
Testing Took Place at a Facility in Ohio
NASCAR has spent an extensive amount of time trying to make the Next Gen cars safer since it first debuted in 2022. The aftermath of the Talladega crash only served as the latest example.
The latest tests took place at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio. NASCAR recreated the Larson-Preece crash using GPS, crash data, and telemetry.
This data helped NASCAR find the exact offset, angle, and speed of the two cars so that it could accurately test the changes in the same situation. Both cars in the crash were built with these safety updates so NASCAR and its teams could see exactly the differences.
“We’ve taken a lot of the steel structural members and removed material from key elements to make this structure less stiff,” said Dr. John Patalak, vice president of safety engineering at NASCAR, transcript courtesy of NASCAR.com.
“We have slots on both sides, we have deleted some cross members between the upright mounts and we’ve treated some of the areas down low that are some of the first to contact the wall on the front clip.
“We’ve also added slots to this ballast container as well as some holes, and it’s all an effort to increase the amount of displacement we’re getting out of the car and to reduce the accelerations that the driver is experiencing.”
The NASCAR Teams Have Little Turnaround Time
The announcement for the public took place on June 8 while the teams heard the news earlier in the week. This created a situation where they have to quickly get the changes made ahead of the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway in early July.
This high-speed track will serve as the debut of the new updates, which is fitting considering that it now races as a superspeedway. It is significantly different than the Sonoma Raceway (road course), Chicago (street course), and Nashville Superspeedway (intermediate) that precede it due to the likely wrecks that collect a good portion of the field.
Getting the updates complete in time for Atlanta will also be key considering that there are two other superspeedway races on the schedule. The regular-season finale will take place at Daytona International Speedway while a playoff race will take place at Talladega Superspeedway.