NASCAR competition officials will conduct the first shakedown of the Cup Series’ Next Gen car on a superspeedway next week, with a two-day test scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
Officials indicated that Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher will drive the “P3” prototype at the 2.5-mile Florida track. The vehicle is scheduled for its competition debut there in the 2022 Daytona 500.
John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, said last month that the single-car test runs “will be important as we start to tune in the drag and power levels we’re going to need to run the speeds we want to run there.” Competition officials reduce the speeds at Daytona and the similar high banks of Talladega Superspeedway with a combination of engine restrictions and aerodynamic measures. Since 2018, pole-winning qualifying speeds at Daytona have been relatively level in the 194-195 mph range.
Next Gen prototypes were most recently on the track during a split session at Charlotte Motor Speedway — Nov. 16 on the 2.32-mile Roval layout and Nov. 18 on the 1.5-mile oval. Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the test drivers for both sessions, which marked the first time two prototypes were on track at the same time.
The selection of the Ford-affiliated Buescher as the latest Next Gen test driver fits the rotation pattern among NASCAR’s three manufacturers. Since the Next Gen model’s on-track debut in October 2019, NASCAR-sanctioned tests have chosen drivers based on a Chevrolet-Ford-Toyota cycle.
Probst said Nov. 18 that competition officials were developing a plan for tire testing with Goodyear, hinting at the likelihood of seven or eight tests next year. Probst also indicated that officials were targeting the start of Wheel Force Tranducer testing to collect data in March, after all three automakers complete their manufacturer-specific builds.