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The NASCAR Cup Series cars aren’t exactly stock, sure, but at least they have a lot more in common with each other than before.
The all-new Next Gen car that has been introduced this season is a specification chassis that is not only similar from brand to brand, but also from track to track.
In past seasons, teams built cars specifically suited to the different types of tracks visited by NASCAR, with the biggest gap being between road courses and superspeedways.
The cars raced on ovals were so specialized that they were asymmetrical and often appeared to roll sideways on the tracks.
In an effort to both cut costs and improve racing, the Next Gen car was designed to be used on all tracks with only minor modifications, a point which was highlighted by Ross Chastain’s victory at the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Turns out the chassis used was the exact same one that drove to victory lane at the Circuit of the Americas road course in Texas earlier in the season. NASCAR Vehicle Systems general manager Brandon Thomas told Fox News Autos that the mechanical changes to the car were so small they could be done in a day.
The biggest update was to swap in new control arms for its fully independent suspension on the left side of the vehicle which allows the wheels to run with positive camber, with the top angled outward, instead of negative camber used on road courses and right side of the car. This allows it to spin left more effectively (insert NASCAR only spins left joke here.)
The Next Gen car’s new five-speed transaxle is also replaced, but only to change the gear ratios to allow the car to reach a higher top speed. Aside from the gearing, however, the parts are identical.
The Cup Series cars also use different spoilers and splitters on the different tracks to alter their aerodynamic profile, but the composite bodywork is largely the same.
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The ultimate goal for the Next Gen car was to make it as versatile as possible as NASCAR explores new venues, like the temporary track it built inside the LA Memorial Coliseum for the LA Opening Clash. season and possible future races on street courses.
In fact, it’s so capable that NASCAR will enter one in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year as a demonstration vehicle with a few additional modifications, including the installation of headlights and brake lights, making it the most close that a NASCAR car was from a production. car for decades, but still far from one.