NASCAR has made a lot of progress in developing their Next Gen car, but how will it stand up against one of the toughest tracks on the circuit?
NASCAR has already completed a variety of tests on their Next Gen car and that trend will continue with a tire test at Darlington Motor Speedway. Tyler Reddick will work with NASCAR and Goodyear Tire officials during the two-day test at the track having one of the roughest surfaces in the sport.
Typically at Darlington, once the opening laps are run and the tires starts to wear, it gets increasingly difficult for drivers to keep up with the sharply progressive loss of grip.
Not only is Darlington Raceway's surface extremely taxing on tires, the egg-shaped layout of the track makes it a challenge to set-up the car, with drivers having to settle for a compromise that works at both ends of the circuit.
The news comes one week after NASCAR decided to test rain tires at Martinsville Speedway under wet conditions, leading to some interesting results. The sport also completed a series of tests in November last year, when Austin Dillon was drove the car at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We’re in evaluation right now,” John Probst, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Development said of the tire test at Martinsville “I would say that we could have come in here today and had a complete disaster and walked away from it saying, ‘No, this can’t be done.’ I think what we learned today was positive for sure. I think that we just need a little bit of time to go through all the data to figure out what are the next best steps. I would say that we continue the journey, and it looks positive for now. Today could have ended it, but it certainly didn’t do that. I feel like everyone involved felt like it was a very positive test, but it’s still fresh and certainly a very, very good first step.”
With the last two generations of their race cars struggling to put on close, competitive racing, NASCAR is leaving no stone unturned in its approach for the Next Gen car. While its launch was originally pegged for 2021, the COVID-19 crisis made the series decide to put off its release by a year, in order to give officials more time to work on getting it right.