NASCAR competition officials confirmed Tuesday that Clint Bowyer will drive the Next Gen car for the 2021 Cup Series in next week’s two-day test at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Monday-Tuesday test session will be the fifth on-track shakedown for next season’s car and the second for the “P3” model, the third prototype built. The car, built by Richard Childress Racing in conjunction with developers at the NASCAR Research & Development Center, is ready after contact during the last test at Auto Club Speedway on March 2-3.
Next Gen prototypes have previously been tested by (in order) Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Erik Jones and William Byron. The selection of Bowyer, a Stewart-Haas Racing veteran, follows what is now a pattern of Chevrolet, Ford then Toyota drivers in the testing rotation.
The seventh-generation car’s Atlanta debut follows a tripleheader weekend of racing at the 1.54-mile track, culminating with Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) for the NASCAR Cup Series. Next week’s test will also mark the Next Gen car’s second appearance on a track measuring roughly a mile and a half; Erik Jones drove the car in testing on Jan. 15-16 at 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The most recent test at 2-mile Auto Club Speedway marked the debut of a center-locking, single lug-nut design for the car’s 18-inch wheels. Officials confirmed that the single-lug wheel would be part of the 2021 rules rollout.