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.
The Next Gen car made its debut on a short track at the beginning of the year at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum but now it’s set to see its first points race on a shorter track and at higher speeds, so we’re going to see the cars put through their paces in close-quarters racing. Teams tested the Next Gen car at Phoenix back in January and practice today showed that data from the test is helping the drivers get a better handle on how to control the cars here compared to the spins we saw at that test.
One of the first items that looks different on the cars at Phoenix that we haven’t seen at the longer tracks is that the brake ducts on the front will be opened to allow for better brake cooling since the brakes will see a lot more use here than they do at the longer tracks. Each OEM has approved brake ducts zones where they are allowed to place up to two four-inch holes for the brake ducts on each side of the front bumper cover. Unlike the radiator grille, the brake duct inlets can be taped so teams can control the flow.
These ducts lead to the new larger brake package which should allow the drivers to brake with less effort compared to the previous generation car but will be a new experience because of the pedal now being moved to the floor. Drivers will likely make use of their dash-mounted brake bias dials as a handling tool in the race as these dials change the percentage of braking that is sent to the front versus the rear of the car.
RING AND PINION SETS
Outside of the brake bias, we’re also likely to see drivers making use of the shifter for that sequential gearbox as we saw quite a few of them going back and forth between fourth and fifth gear during practice. Phoenix uses the 11:39 “AB” gear set for the transaxle configuration which employs a 19:24 ratio drop gear and has a 3.545 ratio. This combination of ratios allows for both fourth and fifth gear to be usable on track here and allows the transaxle to be a tool especially as the tires wear.
The season has been exciting with a lot of different cars ending up out front at the races that we’ve seen so far and all of the new factors being introduced at a track like this will likely see that trend continuing which should make for an exciting race tomorrow (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).