Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Kurt Busch Saw ‘Progress’ Made in Latest Next Gen Test

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Encouraging progress was being reported regarding NASCAR’s “Next Gen” car following Tuesday’s session at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch participated in the latest test of the new car that’s slated to debut in 2022, focusing on the 1.5-mile oval. It’s not the first time the 2004 Cup Series champion ran the prototype as he and Martin Truex, Jr. spent two days testing both the Charlotte oval and Roval configurations last November.

With experience, Busch was pleased being able to describe how the car reacted on the oval and impressed how much work the sport made over the past three months.

“I was honored to get a call to come back and verify things from our last test,” said Busch. “I haven’t been in our current car since then, so it’s good for me mentally to have that benchmark and be able to explain what the car is doing on the track. It’s great to see the progress from November to January and know that we’re headed in the right direction.”

With more data and laps ran, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation John Probst commented about the progress from Busch as Tuesday marked the first “Next Gen” test of 2021.

“We had a successful test at Charlotte Motor Speedway today and were able to validate some work we’ve done since our recent tests at Charlotte and Daytona,” said Probst. “We wanted to return to Charlotte with Kurt to collect direct comparisons of data and driver feedback. We’re happy with what we saw on the track today.”

Last month, Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher tested the first-ever superspeedway prototype at Daytona International Speedway last month.

Although a single-car run doesn’t fully paint the story of how the product will change, Buescher had plenty takeaways ranging from speed differences and brake handling.

“We went through a lot of different (speed) changes to try to dial in what we know and get closer on what we don’t know. To try to have a competitive race and still do it within a reasonable speed,” said Buescher last month. “Just worked through a couple little nuance things that are just a lot different, and honestly it’s a little bit of just mind over matter as far as shifting, trying to make sure you keep pulling backwards for the sequential stuff, which was really neat.

“I really enjoyed using it and got better as it went, learning what it can and can’t do there by the end. The brakes are terrific and I know this isn’t even a short-track set-up, but they stop extremely well. There’s not going to be any issues getting to pit road and not having the stopping power, just going to be a matter of not spinning out.”

Time will tell when the next test will commence, but Probst’s comments from December should hint on the things needing to occur before further establishing testing schedules.

“We’re working with the OEMs and with the teams to establish what our testing schedule will look like next year,” said Probst. “We will be working with Goodyear to do a couple more tests with the car, but it will be coming out of the development phase and we’ll be focusing primarily on the tires. We’ll probably do three or four tire tests in the first half of next year for Goodyear.”

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography ranging from Idaho athletics to auto racing with ambitions of having his work recognized.