the NASCAR The Cup cars are all new for the 2022 season. These “next generation cars” feature state-of-the-art transmissions and controls. But the NASCAR Next Gen race cars aren’t FWD: They retain the V8 engine and RWD layout of the Generation-6 Cup cars.
Are NASCAR Next Gen cars front-wheel drive?
No, for the 2022 season, NASCAR’s Next Gen cars feature a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Future seasons may feature AWD hybrids.
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the NASCAR next generation revolutionized many aspects of motorsport. But several key components of the new Cup car are familiar.
First, every Next Gen car is powered by an OEM V8 engine. These are Toyota, Chevrolet and Ford pushrod V8 engines. They are naturally aspirated and capable of over 600 horsepower when not fitted with the official NASCAR restrictor plate.
Second, every Next Gen car is a true three-pedal manual with a floor-mounted shifter connected to a five-speed manual transmission. That said, these new controllers are sequential manuals. Like the ratchet shifters used in drag racing, the shifter has two positions: downshift one gear forward and downshift up.
A major difference is that the Next Gen car manual is mounted in the rear of the car, in a transaxle unit. This better balances the weight of the race cars, just like in the previous three generations of the Corvette.
This transaxle transmission spins two small “half-shafts,” each of which floats on an independent rear suspension. The NASCAR Next Gen car is very RWD.
Differences between Generation 6 and Generation 7 Cup cars
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NASCAR Next Gen car layout will make racing more exciting. First, the transaxle and independent rear suspension make room for a full-car-length fender. This new aerodynamic feature quickly evacuates any air trapped under the car, creating a thousand pounds more downforce.
Have you noticed that Next Gen cars drive higher than Generation-6 cars? This is because teams aren’t as concerned about getting air under the car, it will pass quickly.
This complete wing of the car ends in an aerodynamic element called a diffuser. This diffuser looks like a series of vertical fins, the same thing is found on high-end supercars. Its purpose is simple: to create less turbulence behind the car. This will make it easier and safer for Next Gen cars to pass each other.
Finally, all that extra downforce means Next Gen cars can easily corner, left or right. Teams can use the same car on superspeedway, medium ovals and road courses. Its design is much closer to the original Mustangs and Camaros it is supposed to represent.
Future NASCAR Next Gen cars could be AWD
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We probably won’t see FWD Next Gen cars anytime soon. But AWD NASCAR Cup cars may be on the horizon.
Formula 1 cars have been all-wheel drive for years. That’s because Formula 1 cars are what’s known as ‘through the pavement’ hybrids; a traditional internal combustion engine powers their rear wheels while an electric motor/generator powers their front wheels. This allows for tighter cornering and regenerative braking to better stretch a tank of gas.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps admitted he hopes to implement “some type of hybrid engine system” by the sport’s 2024 season.
In one NASCAR ConferenceFord’s Mark Rushbrook developed the idea. He said of the Next Gen Car: “With the bolt-on front clip and the rear clip, then you can have a unique front clip for an electric motor version.”
So will the 2024 NASCAR cars be AWD hybrids? The Association will likely start with RWD cars with a mild-hybrid system built into the transaxle. But we’ll just have to wait and find out. In the meantime, check out our ultimate guide to the NASCAR Next Generation car.
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