The 2022 Cup season will feature the NASCAR Next Gen car. The outgoing, sixth-generation stock cars feature 5.86-liter V8s built by Ford, Chevy, or Toyota. The familiar V8 NASCAR engines will power the Next Gen cars. But because every other aspect of the drivetrain and aerodynamics have evolved, the Next Gen V8s will be allowed to make hundreds more horsepower.
The NASCAR Next Generation Car: 1000 pounds more downforce
Many of the most significant changes to NASCAR’s Next Gen cars will be to the vehicle’s aerodynamics. For the first time in NASCAR history, the stock car will sport a full-length underwing. In addition, this aerodynamic element will end in a diffuser designed to reduce turbulence. As a result, the race car rapidly expels air from beneath the chassis.
In addition to the underwing, NASCAR reengineered airflow through the Next Gen car’s engine. After air travels through the radiator, it will exit the engine bay from two vents on top of the stock car’s hood. This air will then cross over the top of the vehicle, pressing it downwards.
Finally, the Next Gen cars have several different splitters and spoiler options. NASCAR will dictate which aero package the teams use at each track, but all options will create more downforce.
According to Bubba Wallace, these changes result in “pretty much a thousand pounds more downforce” at some tracks. Due to improved aerodynamics, the cars will be more stable at speeds, especially cornering in a road course. As a result, NASCAR Next Gen cars will pass more often, and racing will be even more exciting in 2022.
Wallace added that “we could have the majority of the field close together. The driver concluded, “I’m excited about it.” But the added downforce will increase strain on the V8 NASCAR engines.
2022 race cars will be powered by V8 NASCAR engines making 725 horsepower
Because of substantially increased downforce, the NASCAR Next Gen cars will require more power to maintain current speeds. Since a dangerous 1987 crash, an official restrictor plate limits all NASCAR engines to about 410 horsepower. The restrictor plate is a 1/8th-inch thick piece of aluminum with four holes mounted atop the manifold. This plate restricts the flow of air and gasoline.
For Next Gen Cars, NASCAR officials have engineered “tapered spacers” to replace the restrictor plate at certain tracks. These spacers are about an inch thick. Instead of straight-cut holes, they feature tapered openings. These openings function as nozzles, increasing the amount of air and gasoline flow into the engine. The result: NASCAR Next Gen engines will make up to 725 horsepower.
When NASCAR assigns an aerodynamic package to the teams for each track, officials will appoint a corresponding NASCAR engine limiter. In 2022, these limiters will include restrictor plates or one of two specifications of tapered spacers.
NASCAR Next Gen Car Specs: transaxle and independent rear suspension
The Next Gen NASCAR engines will be identical to the current stock car V8s. But the power will reach the road in a brand new way.
One defining drivetrain characteristic of the 2022 cars will be the NASCAR Next Gen Corvette-style transaxle. The Next Gen chassis combines the rear axle and the transmission into a single weight-saving unit: the transaxle. This drivetrain will also better balance the vehicle’s weight front-to-back, improving handling. The transaxle is a typical sports car layout, used by Chevrolet for the past three generations of the Corvette.
Gone is the solid rear axle. Instead, the NASCAR Next Gen transaxle will send power to the wheels via two smaller half-shafts. Because the half-shafts can move independently, the rear tires will also be able to move on independent suspension.
Teams can now adjust the camber of the rear tires, improving grip at highly banked oval courses such as Bristol. The independent rear suspension is closer to the stock Camaros, Mustangs, and Camrys that the NASCAR race cars represent.
Finally, the new half-shafts will spin 18-inch, forged aluminum wheels. These new rims are lighter and better at dispelling brake heat than the outgoing steel rims. In addition, they will wear low-profile Goodyear tires.