The seventh generation of the NASCAR Cup racing car, also known as Gen-7 or Next-Gen, was set to make its appearance in 2021. This was unfortunately postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Next-Gen making its appearance in 2022 amid huge fanfare, there are many questions about the differences between Generation 6 and the Next-Gen NASCAR racers.
The Gen-6 NASCAR aimed to make designs similar in appearance to the vehicles you would find on the road. The chassis was largely spec. Cars were tougher, bulkier, and faster and relied a lot on aerodynamic grip. Next-Gen vehicles will be largely spec in most aspects, forcing teams to use OEM parts.
Next-Gen NASCAR racing cars are said to be revolutionary in ways that have never been seen before. The difference goes well beyond appearance and into the realm of technical changes that will force teams to work smarter to gain an advantage over their competition. The move was also made to entice more OEMs to get involved. Let’s compare the Gen-6 and Next-Gen cars more closely.
NASCAR Generation 6 – Stock Chassis, Original Look
When NASCAR Generation 6 was unveiled by Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet, the goal was simple: make the cars fast and tough while also making them look like the same vehicle racing fans can go out and buy. This meant that the vehicle’s chassis had to be pretty much identical to that of its showroom counterpart, with most of the differences being beneath the shell.
The shell itself had to have a similar appearance to showroom vehicles as well, but those similarities were primarily cosmetic. The hood and deck lids were manufactured using carbon fiber, reinforced with Kevlar to minimize the shell splintering and shattering in case of an accident. Even dashboards were made to be similar in appearance to street-legal counterparts through digital displays.
Since there was little that teams could do to the chassis to gain a competitive edge, teams placed a lot of emphasis on aero and downforce packages. The Low downforce packages could take as much as 1000 pounds of downforce away from the car, while high downforce leads to unsatisfying races with no action. This caused frustration with drivers and fans alike until aero ducts were introduced.
Gen-6 NASCAR’s Safety Measures
Generation 6 NASCAR features both a forward roof bar and center roof bar support as part of the roll cage. This improves the vehicle’s structural integrity and makes crushing less likely, while also keeping the driver relatively safe if a crushing accident does happen.
Flipping has always been a problem in NASCAR races when cars went backward at high speed, so Generation 6 also added large roof flaps to keep the cars from flipping over. This was not very effective, though, since drivers and spectators were injured during flipping accidents in 2015 and 2020.
Gen-6 NASCAR’s Performance
Since there was so much emphasis placed on the speed and toughness of the car, the Generation 6 NASCAR’s performance was top-notch. Of the twenty-three racing tracks that Gen-6 cars competed on, new records were set by Generation 6 vehicles on sixteen of them. Two other races came close, but neither of them quite managed to set a new record.
Gen-6 NASCAR’s Popularity
The Generation 6 NASCAR was initially received with excitement. The idea of showing a car that someone could go out and buy was a hit with the fans, and there was a massive spike in NASCAR’s popularity because of it.
The excitement was short-lived, though. Towards the end, popularity dropped as fans and drivers alike became dissatisfied. This was mainly due to unexciting races caused by too much experimentation with downforce, which in turn was caused by rule changes by NASCAR, which negatively affected the performance of the cars.
One of the hopes is that the Next-Gen, or Generation 7, NASCAR will re-ignite this excitement and boost the popularity of NASCAR races again.
|Differences||Gen 6 Nascar||Next Gen Nascar|
|Performance||Steadily increased in performance during its life cycle. Achieved 16 of 23 Lap records||Obviously too early currently, however reports suggest it is performing comparably at this early stage of its lifecycle.|
|Horsepower||850-400 during its lifespan||670 and 510 superspeedway (currently)|
|Safety Measures||Anti Flipping measures, Stronger roll cages and roof bars||Next-Gen cars utilize a carbon-fiber tub that’s inside its steel tube outline. drivers is moved to a more central position. Chassis front and rear bumpers|
|Shell||Sheet metal designed to fold to protect from impacts, more difficult to fix||Composite material designed to replace damaged parts rather than whole, aimed at cost reduction.|
|Transmission||4 speed manual Transmission||5+1 speed Sequential Transmission|
|Engines / Drive train||manufacturing parts and replacements in house||NASCAR teams now source parts for the Next Gen from single sources.|
|Wheels||15 inch Steel wheel with 5 lug nuts||18 inch Forged aluminum wheels with a single Lug nut.|
|Refueling||Gas Canister||Clamp on system|
|Aerodynamics and Design||Many configurations – splitters, radiator grills, 3.5 to 6 inch spoilers||Fully Symmetrical addition of a rear diffuser. stepped front splitter, aerodynamic vents on the hood, and a redesigned side skirt and 4 inch rear spoiler|
|Suspension||Solid steel axle||5 way adjustable rear suspension|
The Next Gen NASCAR – Revolutionizing Old Standards
The Generation 7 NASCAR is set to revolutionize NASCAR standards that have been in place for around six decades. Since the car market is changing so rapidly, the organizers felt that it’s time that NASCAR races reflect those changes. Some of these changes are immediate and launch with the Next-Gen NASCAR in 2022, while others will be implemented over time.
The most noticeable change lies in the fact that teams will no longer be allowed to shop around or custom-make much of the car’s components. Next-Gen NASCAR vehicles are largely spec, with parts being sold like kits by OEM vendors. The focus will move away from development and more towards construction and assembly, with most of the cars being standard.
The only two places where cars will differ from one another are the bodywork or shell, which is unique for each vehicle, and the engine that’s on the inside.
Next-Gen cars utilize a carbon-fiber tub that’s inside its steel tube outline. It has an independent rear suspension and five- to six-speed sequential transmission in transaxle. 18-inch wheels with lower-profile tires round off the design. These changes are all evolved from standards that have been in place since the 1960s, and many reckon the changes should have happened years ago.
Next Gen Wheels Changes
Generation 6 Nascar racers have 15 inch steel wheels with five lug nuts to keep them on the car. The Next Gen Nascar is upgrading these to a single lug nut on an 18inch Aluminium wheel made by BBS. Although this reduction in lug nuts from 5 to 1 seems to indicate that it would make pit stops faster, especially those 4 tire stops screamed out at Darlington, testing has shown the effect to be minimal.
“Kind of like the same time as last year, might be a second faster.” said the front tire man, Josh Thomas, for the No. 3 Richard Childress Chevrolet, told NASCAR.com.
There maybe four less nits to tighten, but that one lug nut requires more torque to fix in place. So according to Austin Dillion, its going to come down to fuel more than changing tires in pit stops.
Next Gen Aerodynamics
The Gen 6 car could be made asymetrical to assist when driving on ovals, the Next gen car is not built this way. Although teams are currently trying to work out how to put this on the cars ( with some interesting results and skewing on tracks!)
THe Next gen cars are also coming with rear diffusers to help with downforce, aerodynamic vents and front stepped splitters.
Next-Gen NASCAR’s Safety
The driver’s safety is protected by moving the driver’s seat 1.6 inches closer to the car’s center. There are concerns that this is not enough to improve the safety, and rumors abound of crash tests with the Next-Gen NASCAR going badly. NASCAR is not concerned, though, and insists that third-party tests and checks are done to ensure optimal safety for its drivers.
The concern stems mainly from the fact that the Next-Gen car’s body is designed to fold back into place in the event of a scrape or a crash rather than coming apart. This will mean that drivers can stay in the race for longer, which is what NASCAR is aiming to do. But a big part of a NASCAR vehicle’s safety is in the body coming apart to lower the force of impact on the car itself.
The Future Of The Next-Gen NASCAR
At this point, there’s very little that can be known in terms of performance, and only time will tell how well the Next-Gen is going to do in that aspect. But NASCAR’s future plans for the Gen-7 are revolutionary, to say the least. Currently using the same ICE V8 formula that the Gen-6 cars use, this is due to change over the next few years to adopt hybrid or fully electric engines.
The Next-Gen NASCAR is a significant evolution up from the Generation 6. Many claim that this evolution is overdue, hoping that it will spark more interest. Others fear that the changes may be too extreme and will change the face of the race severely.
One thing is for certain with so many changes in aerodynamics, suspension and transmission the notebook from previous seasons has to be rewritten. The first season of the NExt Gen car is going to make for great viewing.
Will Generation 7 be the revival that NASCAR is hoping it would be, or will it be a knock to its popularity? We’ll have to wait and see.