By Bozi Tatarevic
4 Minute Read
Editor’s note: Bozi Tatarevic is a professional racing mechanic and pit crew member. He will provide technical analysis for NASCAR.com throughout the 2022 season.
Things heated up as the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race was coming to a close Thursday night when leader Joey Logano attempted a block on the No. 17 Ford of Chris Buescher, which ended with Logano’s No. 22 Ford breaking loose and going nose first into the wall. The impact resulted in Logano’s car bouncing back from the wall and impacting the right front corner of the No. 21 Ford driven by Harrison Burton. This was our first view of what a multi-car crash at a superspeedway might look like in the Next Gen era, and the results have been encouraging so far.
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Driver safety is an integral part of the Next Gen car and Logano shared that he was encouraged by what he experienced in that crash.
“I feel OK. I feel fine. I got out and I feel fine. That’s a good sign,” Logano said. “I hit the wall fairly hard and got out no problem. That part is good if there’s a positive to it. I don’t want to be the crash test dummy, but definitely was today.”
With Logano being released from the infield care center, the attention turned to his damaged car and how his team would help him get back on track as quickly as possible. The decision was made that they would go to a backup car in order to save time over repairing the damaged car. The engine and a few other components that needed to be transferred over were removed from the damaged car to be installed in the backup car, and then it was trucked back to North Carolina.
Once back in North Carolina, the car was stripped down and according to sources familiar with the process, the damage was less extensive than expected with the front edge of the front clip sustaining the brunt of it. In addition to the front end damage, it also had a broken toe link in the right which was the result of the impact with Burton. The toe link break makes sense, as that is somewhat of a sacrificial part since it can be replaced easily but prevents bigger components in the suspension from sustaining damage.
The general condition of the No. 22 car points to repairs that could likely be completed in less than a day with the installation of a new front clip and body panels, plus some suspension repair on the right rear. This is promising for the long-term goals of being able to reuse the Next Gen car for many races. In this case, it made more sense to go to a backup car and save a little time since one was available, but that wrecked No. 22 Ford is likely to be repaired in the coming days and make an appearance at a race down the road.
The No. 21 Ford of Burton fared a little bit better as its front right corner impacted the right rear corner of the No. 22 after it rolled back into traffic. This type of impact would have likely resulted in the use of a backup car with the previous generation Cup, but the No. 21 crew decided to complete a repair and the process appears to be better than expected.
As we noted earlier this week, the composite body panels on the Next Gen car are individually replaceable. In this case, the No. 21 Ford required a new bumper cover, fender and hood. In addition to those body components, the Ford also received a new front bumper support, which is the piece that sits between the front clip and the bumper cover. The front splitter that sits below the bumper cover was also replaced.
Outside of the cosmetics, some of the suspension components on the right front corner of the car were also replaced as the wheel had an impact during the incident and may have bent some of the pieces behind it. Overall, it appears to have been a fairly straightforward repair that only took a few hours versus the move to a backup car that we might have seen after a similar impact last year, since the bumper support was not a piece that could be replaced as easily.
This is a promising start for the reparability of the Next Gen car. A superspeedway is one of the toughest environments for a race car, and being able to reuse a car after it crashed at Daytona would often require extensive repairs in the past.