RFR Gets First Look at Next-Gen Car in Two-Day Daytona Test
CONCORD, N.C., (Dec. 18, 2020) – There is still one full season to be completed in the current NASCAR Cup Series car before the sport debuts its new Next-Gen machine to start the 2022 campaign, but the preparation is already well underway. This week Chris Buescher took part in some of that preparation in a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway.
Buescher, coming off his fifth Cup season and first with Roush Fenway, is among the first set of drivers to get behind the wheel of the machine that will see its on-track competitive debut at the 2022 Daytona 500. NASCAR initially planned for the body to replace the current model in 2021, but pushed the timing back after COVID-19 shut down much of the sport, including testing and other elements involved with the production of the car.
“You’ve seen videos of it at other tracks and heard pretty minimal input from other drivers, so it was nice to get behind the wheel and drive it myself and be that much more prepared when we go racing,” Buescher told Claire B. Lang this week on SiriusXM. “It was neat to get in it and see how it’s all done, there’s just so many things on it that are so much further advanced than what we’ve been racing.”
Among the notable differences are the dual exhaust feature on both sides of the car, sequential shifting, varying brake packages, one-lug wheels and most noticeable to fans a definitive shift in the overall look of the car.
“It’s definitely a long-overdue overhaul of our race cars, and has a lot more relevant technology related to what our manufacturers are actually producing today,” Buescher added. “Daytona is not the most exciting track to go test by yourself, but there was a lot learned. The sequential shifting was something I thought I was going to have a hard time learning, and I love it, so that was a big hit for me.”
The change also brings an added element of challenge inside the race car, but one Buescher noted he wasn’t all that concerned with by the time the season opener in 2022 rolls around.
“There’s going to be a learning curve to it, but it’s not that it’s completely different than what we’ve been doing,” Buescher said. “There’s more braking power, the shifting you still have to match RPM’s, and it’s just a different motion. I can’t say it’s going to be anything super challenging, it’s just going to be different and something that we will adapt to rather quickly as we start practicing and testing it later next year. I imagine by the time we hit the track for a race, we’ll have a pretty good idea of this car and the limits of it.”
Among the noticeable differences so far is the sound, which only a handful of individuals inside the garage have been able to experience thus far. For Buescher though, the sound isn’t as much an important factor for the drivers as it is for the fans, who he says will notice a change come 2022.
“From inside the car it wasn’t much different,” he said. “I had a ton of people tell me it sounded awesome on the race track, which is really all that matters. It’s something everyone has a lot of positive feedback on, and I think once you get 40 of these things on the track, it’s going to be intimidating.”
For now, the offseason remains quiet for Buescher as he and Roush Fenway gear up for 2021, but the opportunity given this week was impactful and one that should pay dividends moving forward.
“It was a really good opportunity and a lot of fun,” he added. “At the end of the day, you can go sit on a simulator – and we do every week – and run laps for five hours, but it’s not near as much fun as what we did the last two days. It was neat to say we were one of the first guys in it.”