NASCAR officials set the rules configuration for a majority of tracks on the 2022 Cup Series schedule Tuesday, announcing that the Next Gen car will use a 4-inch rear spoiler for downforce and will use engines with 670 target horsepower as a baseline.
The determination came after a meeting with competition officials, drivers and representatives for teams and manufacturers at the end of two days of testing last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Those sessions marked the final tests scheduled this year for the Next Gen car that will make its debut in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series. The rules package for superspeedway events will be determined later.
Competition officials worked with teams to try four engine/aerodynamics configurations last week on Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval layout. Officials said the fourth and final package — a higher 670-horsepower figure and a centered 4-inch rear spoiler for reduced rear downforce — received majority support from those attending Friday’s post-test meeting.
“It’s been a two-year process,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “So certainly, it came down to Friday, but that was really through all the work, the thousands of hours of on-track testing and the collaboration with the industry and continued tests to really narrow down what could be the final rules package for the Next Gen car. Friday, we were able to solidify that. We met with the industry, a number of drivers post-test on Friday with the packages we had narrowed down and really hit on what we all thought would be a great Next Gen car in terms of going out under one rules package with 670 horsepower and then a low-downforce 4-inch spoiler, which we we believe we can implement across all of our tracks outside of superspeedways.
“So the bottom line of all this, and you’ll hear this from the drivers is that this package with the Next Gen car puts it back in the drivers’ hands and we’re excited about what that will do in 2022, for sure.”
The base rules configuration will be used at road courses, short tracks and intermediate-sized circuits during the 2022 season. The package will be part of the Next Gen car when it debuts Sunday, Feb. 6 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum exhibition in Los Angeles.
Cars proved to be a handful at times during last week’s two-day organizational test at Charlotte, with several spins and incidents as drivers fought for control when cycling through the different configurations. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick was top among those pushing the limits, his No. 8 Chevrolet involved in multiple scrapes and incidents. A three-car tangle in Friday’s final group run brought the test to a close after 12 of a scheduled 30 laps.
“It’s really a new beginning for everyone, right?” O’Donnell said. “So no one has a ton of data they can go back and look at for this car where we previously raced, and that’s a neat thing for the race fan. So they’re going to see the best drivers and the best engineers in the world go out there and attack this car and attack each race track, and it will be hard to drive. I think the drivers are enthusiastic about that. The tire that Goodyear has come with has really put strategy back into a race, so some of that old-school racing that a lot of fans have talked about, I think you’ll see. We’ll learn along the way as well, and there are different things we can take away from this season coming up in ’22 as we look to continually improve upon what we believe is going to be a great launch of the Next Gen car.”
A separate superspeedway rules package for the Cup Series’ largest and fastest ovals — Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway — will be determined next month. Atlanta Motor Speedway will potentially be added to that rules package list after the 1.54-mile oval was repaved and rebuilt with 28-degree banking new for 2022.
Cup Series tests are scheduled Jan. 5-6 at the new-look Atlanta and Jan. 11-12 at Daytona to zero in on the Next Gen rules configuration for superspeedways. Atlanta, Daytona and Talladega each play host to two events on the 2022 schedule, the first being the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“Yeah, we’re close,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve done a number of tests already but our next step in the process for superspeedways will be in Atlanta, early January to confirm what package we want to put on that race track. We expect that to be the superspeedway package. Then from there, we’ll go to Daytona on the 11th and 12th of January, and really what we’re looking at there is the speed of the car. So there’s potential we could shorten the spoiler a little bit. We’ve made some cooling adjustments to the car that affected a little bit of the drag of this car, so we want to make sure that the speeds are commensurate with where we’ve run in the past. So getting some extra laps on the car, both days getting the teams more familiar with the car at the Daytona and then we’ll finalize it coming out of that test.”