After rumors began to spread rapidly across the NASCAR social media space that the Next-Gen car performed poorly in an initial crash test at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller dismissed the accusations on Tuesday in an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
As Miller explained, “So what everybody needs to understand is when we were able to do that testing — and any safety testing that we do — there are reams of data that come off of that. And we, as far as the timeframe goes, it always takes a while to piece together the complete report on what we saw in a crash. So it’s not like we could … anybody should have expected that we would go crash that car and like, look at a couple of graphs and say, hey, we’re done analyzing this data. We see absolutely nothing in the data that’s alarming, but we want to have a comprehensive report, and I have no idea how all of the rumors started about that it didn’t go well, because it did go well. So that’s where we are, and hopefully, we can get that report out.”
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) July 13, 2021
During the test at Talladega last month, a crash dummy was strapped into NASCAR’s Next Gen model and was controlled via robotics. Rumors began to spread last week that the dummy “died” during the test at Talladega, setting off panic and concern amongst the NASCAR social media space. Miller reaffirmed that nothing from the data initially seemed “alarming,” however NASCAR is sending the crash test findings to an independent panel of safety experts for further review. The panel consists of Dr. James Raddin, who helped in the investigation of the death of the late Dale Earnhardt; Dr. Jeff Crandall, who serves as an engineering consultant for the National Football League (NFL); Dr. Barry Myers, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke Univesity; and Dr. Joel Stitzel, chair of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist Health.
The concern for the car’s safety has spilled over into the driver’s pool as well, with Denny Hamlin speaking to the media during the Atlanta weekend about the rumored failure.
Denny Hamlin, speaking about Next Gen safety issues and the Atlanta reconfiguration, explains why there needs to be more collaboration between the drivers, tracks and NASCAR. pic.twitter.com/KSLZYsLdkh
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 11, 2021
“I’ve asked questions to two different NASCAR people – executives – I can’t get a response,” Hamlin said. “That to me makes it even scarier. Man, the disconnection between all the parties – NASCAR, the tracks, the drivers it’s just… it’s tough right now – not in a good place.”
When asked about any information regarding the Talladega crash test, Kevin Harvick gave a pinpoint answer. “I have not,” he said.
“As we sat in the driver’s meeting that NASCAR had with us to show us everything, I think the most frustrating part of the whole process is that the safety piece to the drivers and the conversation with the drivers, which was asked for by the drivers, was had at the end of everything,” Harvick said. “You know, I think as you look at that, The guys driving the cars are owed at least the respect enough to at least be a part of the process of what’s going on. But I think that, and the racetrack… and I think everybody’s a little bit frustrated with just how all of that has been handled.”
Kevin Harvick explains the frustration of the process when it comes to safety and the Next Gen car but indicated the info given to them in May helped alleviate some concerns. pic.twitter.com/8o9IVfn1mi
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 11, 2021
Harvick also revealed that a Next Gen tire test is taking place at Bristol next month, but the chassis for the car cannot be obtained by the teams until crash testing is complete.
Another hot topic to come out regarding the car for 2022 Tuesday morning is a potential partial rollout, similar to the NASCAR Car Of Tomorrow in 2007. This was ignited by Freddie Kraft, spotter for Bubba Wallace, on the latest episode of the Door Bumper Clear podcast. Kraft was quoted at 38:40 of the episode saying “If, and I still think this is a big if right now if we run this Next Gen car, it’s not full-time next year. I think you’re going to see it rollout like the C.O.T did, where it’s certain racetracks – road courses, short tracks maybe. Something like that, I don’t think we run this car full-time next year .”
When asked about the debut of the Next-Gen car for 2022 at Daytona in February, Miller replied with an “Absolutely.”
The Next Gen car has already seen a major delay thanks to the coronavirus pandemic when NASCAR confirmed in April of 2020 that the car’s debut, originally slated for 2021, would be pushed back one year. The decision was made between NASCAR, the OEMs, and the team owners.