NASCAR’s basic formula hasn’t changed much since the Cup Series’ inception. The cars sport a four-speed manual gearbox, a live rear axle, and more brawl than a bare-knuckle beatdown. But that basic componentry changes with the reveal of NASCAR’s Next Gen car, set to debut in 2022. The traditional elements are gone, replaced by a sequential transaxle and independent rear suspension. Other changes include the introduction of spec parts from specialized suppliers. NASCAR worked on the Next Gen car for more than two years alongside those vendors, as well as Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota. This is one of the biggest evolutions stock-car racing has ever seen. Here are the changes that matter.
This story originally appeared in Volume 6 of Road & Track.
Body: The car is now symmetrical. That might not sound like a huge development, but the previous body design was asymmetrical, canted toward the inside of the racetrack to maximize airflow advantages during all of those left turns.
Engine: While the traditional V-8 continues to live under the hood and the engine blocks and rotating assemblies were mostly carried over, some external modifications were made, including different oil pans and exhausts, mainly due to packaging and routing constraints. The mill can be tuned for either 550 or 670 horsepower, depending on the track.
Gearbox: The four-speed manual transmission sitting directly behind the engine has been replaced. The gearbox is now a five-speed sequential transaxle from Xtrac, the first sequential NASCAR has ever used. The setup allows space for a battery and the capability to add a motor-generator unit to the transaxle for a hybridized future.
Chassis: The chassis is a spec part that comes in three pieces: a center section and the front and rear clips that bolt to it. Teams will no longer fabricate their chassis and will instead assemble them from kits. The spec parts are intended to reduce costs and make smaller teams more competitive.
Suspension: Another first is the car’s independent rear suspension. The shocks and springs are no longer independently mounted, but instead in a coilover design. They’re connected to control arms attached to aluminum uprights, much like what you’d find on a GT3 car.
Wheels: The Next Gen car sports single-lug, 18-inch aluminum wheels, a big increase in diameter from the five-lug, 15-inch steel wheels on the current Cup car. The new size brings these wheels’ silhouettes in line with their roadgoing counterparts.