After years of talking about NASCAR’s Next Gen car, it’s now just a matter of months from debuting in 2022. The new vehicle made headlines in July when rumors circulated about potential safety issues arising during crash tests. Multiple Cup Series drivers voiced their concerns about the vehicle’s safety and NASCAR’s lack of transparency on the matter.
Now a new report has surfaced on a change to the Next Gen car that has nothing to do with safety. And according to the latest information, it will certainly be something that fans notice. Whether or not they like it is a whole other story.
Next Gen car and its potential safety issues concern drivers
Last month multiple NASCAR Cup Series drivers expressed concern about the Next Gen car and potential safety issues following reports of poor crash test results, which included test dummies sustaining what would be considered fatal injuries.
Kevin Harvick addressed the drivers’ concerns and called out NASCAR in the process.
“As we sat in the drivers’ meeting that NASCAR had with us to show us everything, I think that the most frustrating part of the whole process is the fact that the safety piece to the drivers and the conversation with the drivers, which was asked for by the drivers, was had at the very end of everything,” the 2014 Cup Series champion pointed out. “And as you look at that, I think the guys driving the cars are owed at least the respect enough to at least be a part of the process of what’s going on. Everybody is just a little bit frustrated with how all that’s been handled.”
Denny Hamlin also expressed frustrations of his own.
“When it comes to the crash stuff, I’ve asked questions to two different NASCAR people, executives,” Hamlin said. “I can’t get a response. That, to me, makes it even scarier. Man, the disconnect right now between all the parties — NASCAR, the tracks, and all the drivers, it’s tough right now. It’s not a good place.”
NASCAR to change location of numbering on Next Gen car doors
Since last year, there have been rumblings that NASCAR was considering shifting the numbers located on the vehicle doors. During last year’s All-Star Race at Bristol, the organization experimented by moving the car numbers closer to the rear wheel well.
The number shift is designed to provide sponsors with a larger area on the car for a bigger logo, which would conceivably allow the teams to sell it for a higher price. In a sport where sponsorships account for 75 percent of a team’s annual revenue, there’s a premium placed on areas with higher visibilities.
According to the latest update from the Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, the numbers are moving forward on the Next Gen car in 2022.
“NASCAR’s review with teams of the potential number switch is in the final stages, and barring a late change, it’s likely that the decal will be moved, specifically forward, starting next season, per sources,” Stern tweeted. “An announcement could come within weeks.”
NASCAR announces window net change
NASCAR’s reported change to the number positioning dovetails nicely with another modification to that area of the car Fox’s Bob Pockrass brought to light last week. He noted that NASCAR modified its policy and the language around the color of window nets.
“Rule was ‘Driver’s window nets must be black’ … now it is ‘Driver’s window nets must be black, unless otherwise authorized by NASCAR,'” Pockrass tweeted.
This change would seemingly allow drivers to modify their window net color to match the paint scheme of their cars.
With the numbers shifting forward to allow sponsors an opportunity to advertise on the main door, it only makes sense now that some type of sponsor’s logo appears on the colored window net. With fan turnout and audience numbers dwindling, somebody has to pay the bills.