The NASCAR Next Gen car has received safety upgrades for the 2023 season

One of the few negatives that debuted for the next-generation car in the 2022 season were complaints from drivers about more significant impacts from rear-end collisions with the car.

Two drivers – Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman – were sidelined with concussions during the season after their cars were involved in accidents that sent both of them crashing into the wall. Busch has not yet been medically cleared to compete, although he has retired from full-time competition.

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Work on a new or modified rear section and bumper structure for the car began in late May and early June, even before Busch’s July accident at Pocono, said Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR’s vice president of safety engineering.

The process began with a computer simulation and eventually included real-world testing, the results of which were shared in a briefing with reporters Tuesday at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, NC.

“We will always do physical exams,” Patalak said. “The computer simulation gives us a level of confidence in the parts and builds, but in the end it has to prove itself through physical testing.

In the videos, the changes to the 2023 car showed a marked increase in “crushability” in rear collisions.

The new design will undergo its first test of racing conditions in the pre-season Busch Lite Clash Sunday on the ¼-mile circuit inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, wreck a Ford Mustang with a bank of 3rd third

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, wreck a Ford Mustang with a bank of 3rd third

Photo: Nigel Kenrad/NKP/ Motorsport Pictures

“There are always challenges because a car has to be able to perform on a racetrack without bending things while not crashing,” said Patalak. “And so you have to look at the wheel loads in Bristol and Dover, what happens to the suspension when you go over the curbs on road courses, things like that.

“We have to work through and around and get creative with how we introduce deformations into the chassis for crashes to make sure we don’t bend things the way they’re not supposed to.

“One of our main concerns is that we don’t introduce any new hazards, we can’t risk a fuel spill or oil rupture and you have to work on every racetrack. So there are challenges based on what the cars have to do on road courses versus high-speed tracks or short tracks”.

The process wasn’t easy and NASCAR had to balance safety concerns with not changing the aerodynamics of each factory entry while ensuring the car remained tough enough to protect the integrity of the interior.

“We went through many, many iterations,” Patalak said.

In a display at the R&D Center for the 2022 and 2023 chassis, the most obvious changes to the rear section are fewer bars on the newer model, changed bar designs and some bars now featuring perforations built into the potential area of ​​the bend points.

right direction

When asked on Wednesday about the safety changes, Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said, “I think everything NASCAR is doing is in a really good direction. We are all intertwined and moving forward together on this.”

Among the other changes to the next-generation car: Changes have been made to the muffler for noise reduction and heat extraction purposes for this weekend’s races at the LA Coliseum and Chicago Street Race. increased cooling vents on car hoods to regulate heat; And each manufacturer altered the nose of their model car to make it a little flatter to help draft at breakneck speed.

NASCAR also tested a few changes to the aero package, including a different-sized rear spoiler, during two tests in Phoenix last month. It plans to conduct an additional test of the changes in a test in the wind tunnel on February 13th.

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