Questions about NASCAR’s next generation cars after the race

Kyle Busch deserved more than two failed Toyota engines in the first round of the NASCAR playoffs.

But at least Bush knows how his night at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee ended, and that he was “overwhelmed” by the playoff elimination.

Martin Truex Jr. He could only laugh as he stood in the garage next to his broken car when fellow Toyota driver Bubba Wallace came in for repairs.

“There’s another one,” he said with a grin. Truex also cited the words of Kevin Harvick after his car caught fire during the opening race of the playoffs in Darlington three weeks ago.

What did Harvick say? Truex spoke about his own Saturday night edition. “Sloppy details.”

At least a dozen playoff drivers had some issues with the new NASCAR Next Gen car at Bristol, where the special game-leveling car was plagued with a host of durability issues that followed it throughout its rookie season.

Ford’s camp was plagued by multiple blown tires, Toyota was suffering from power steering failures, the racers in the race to win were confused by the competition for any number of mechanical gremlins, and passing was a very difficult task.

The 12 lead changes were the lowest in over a dozen years at Bristol and only four of those passes were under the green.

“It’s just hard to get through,” Harvick said. “The car is going through corners too fast. Can’t race.”

Harvick was able to fight for the win until a wheel fell off his Ford during the last round of pit stops and knocked him out of the playoffs.

Now there is a new set of questions related to Next Gen, an industry-wide project to develop a car from single-source parts that both cut costs and helped small teams close the gap with powerful NASCAR organizations. It worked as Chris Buescher became a record 19th Cup winner this season on Saturday night.

Buescher’s win marked the first time since this version of the NASCAR playoffs was established that non-title-challenging drivers won the entire round. Eric Jones won at Darlington and Wallace at Kansas; neither a playoff driver nor Buescher, who took his second career win in his 250th career start.

But Buescher won by stretching his last two-tire pit stop on the final 61 laps of the 500-mile race as the lack of tire wear (except for that rash of blown right front wheels on the Ford) kept runner-up Chase Elliott on four. new tires are comfortable in the rearview mirror.

The Next Gen has been questioned over safety issues following rumors of disastrous crash tests during the development phase, and these issues have only intensified since July, when a crash in qualifying gave Kurt Busch a concussion that kept him out of competition for almost two months. Other drivers have reported feeling the force of impact during crashes worse than ever before, and the spate of fires in Darlington forced NASCAR to make a number of rule changes.

Now there’s a fresh round of complaints after Bristol, where Harvick, Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick were left out of the playoff field.

“We need NextGen 2.0. Just need to figure out who’s going to pay for it,” Denny Hamlin tweeted. Hamlin co-owns the 23XI Racing team, which ran nine races without Kurt Busch.

“Overtaking was just impossible,” Hamlin said after the race. He also had a blown tire at Bristol, but he felt that overtaking difficulties were a bigger problem.

“I would like to see racing in general improve. Slight change in lap times. We’re just running there and it feels like we’re running faster in the corners than in the straights,” Hamlin said. “We had some steering issues and it looks like our Toyota teammates had some steering issues too.”

Yes, all six Toyotas have had problems, from tires for Hamlin and Christopher Bell, steering problems for Truex, Wallace and Ty Gibbs, to engine failure for Kyle Busch.

And it was a mixed night for Brad Keselowski, who won the first leg of the race for his first win of the season and appeared to be in a position to race for his first win of the season. Keselowski moved from Team Penske to RFK Racing this season to manage Jack Rush’s team and he was desperate to give RFK their first win.

But then his tire blew as he led with 87 laps to go and Keselowski’s trip to the victory lane was to congratulate teammate Buescher. He acknowledged that the passage was difficult but said it shouldn’t be easy and said that NASCAR should continue to work on Next Gen.

“Would I like us to keep working on cars? Absolutely. I’ve said it to NASCAR before, I’ve said it to the media before, and I’ll say it again: “If the next generation car looks like this year’s car, then we’ve failed.” – Keselowski. said. “We must continue to grow. We must keep learning. We must continue to make it better. There are probably car owners who don’t want to hear this because it costs money to replace a car.”

“There are “this car is fine” supporters, and there are “this car is fine” supporters,” Keselowski added. “I would like to keep working on it. It seems that today, as in many other things, polarization means that there is no place for a middle ground. In my opinion, I would like to see some small changes, but I am grateful and proud of our sport and how far the Next Gen car has taken us.”

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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