The NASCAR Next Gen Camaro race cars made their competition debut at the beginning of the 2022 Cup Series season as a completely overhauled tech-forward racer. There have certainly been some growing pains since then, prompting the sanctioning body to issue a fix to address hard rear-end impacts. More recently, however, NASCAR announced that it will implement changes to its Next Gen cars in order to improve safety in front-end impacts.
The latest changes stem from a dramatic wreck between the No. 5 Camaro ZL1 of Kyle Larson and the No. 41 Ford Mustang of Ryan Preece at Talladega on April 23rd, 2023. Larson’s No. 5 Camaro spun across traffic, collecting Preece’s No. 41 Mustang and severely damaging both race cars. While both Larson and Preece walked away, the state of their race cars after the wreck raised concerns about the safety of the NASCAR Next Gen design, prompting the sport to take a closer look at improving front-end softness.
In order to achieve this, NASCAR will soften the front clips, front ballast box and front bumper struts. Teams will be required to install a 0.60-inch right-side steel door plate for extra protection, along with two left-side door gussets and an additional tube in the left side of the main cage.
“We’ve taken a lot of the steel structural members and removed material from key elements to make this structure less stiff,” Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR vice president of safety engineering, explained in a statement. “We have slots on both sides, we have deleted some cross members between the upright mounts and we’ve treated some of the areas down low that are some of the first to contact the wall on the front clip.”
He added, “We’ve also added slots to this ballast container as well as some holes, and it’s all an effort to increase the amount of displacement we’re getting out of the car and to reduce the accelerations that the driver is experiencing.”
NASCAR announces significant safety updates to the Next Gen car following the crash involving the Nos. 5 and 41 cars at Talladega.
These changes are set to debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway. pic.twitter.com/bPoOGMRSGb
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 8, 2023
The changes to the NASCAR Next Gen race cars will be implemented at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Cup Series race on Sunday, July 9th, 2023.