During the latest episodes of “Stacking Pennies” podcast, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell made an appearance where he spoke about various topics circulating about the sport since the end of the 2022 season. O'Donnell discussed potential changes to Next Gen cars, potential upcoming international events, and ongoing discussions with manufacturers.
With the debut of the Next Gen car, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season brought a lot of positives - 19 different winners, competitive racing, and more parity. But criticism remained around the on-track product for both short tracks and road courses. COO Steve O’Donnell acknowledged that these areas need to be fixed, which he plans to address in the off-season ahead of next season.
"There’s a lot of things we’ve looked at in the wind tunnel that we found on that car that I think we can try for [a] fairly inexpensive way to go about it, particularly on the short tracks. So you’ll see us most likely go test something up in Richmond."
"But I think there’s gonna be some good things. At least from what we’ve seen already in the wind tunnel and a lot of the sim data, it looks really good in terms of getting rid of some of the challenges as we’ve seen, particularly on the short tracks."
Some of that work has already started, thanks in part to NASCAR’s partnership with Hendrick Motorsports as the organization fields a Garage 56 entry for next season’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“We are having conversations right now with an OEM” - NASCAR COO
Since Toyota entered the Truck Series in 2004, and finally made the leap to the Cup Series in 2007, NASCAR has not seen a new manufacturer in the sport.
Further on the Stacking Pennies podcast, Steve O’Donnell stated that the conversation of adding a new OEM is going on and has gotten close, but added that it will be tough to add a new manufacturer in the next five years. O’Donnell said:
“I think there’s certainly interest. We are having conversations right now with an OEM, so I’d like to say likely, but it’s tough. … But again, when you go back to looking at how soon is electrification going to come? Or where do you want to be? And at the end of the day, for us, it’s great if you want to be in the electric space, but we want to be entertaining, right? We’re a sport.”
NASCAR drivers, teams, and manufacturers will be seen in action next year in the Cup Series in the preseason race Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum.