UPDATE (JULY 14, 2023): The two-day test session for a half-dozen NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams has been canceled, as a result of the inclement weather expected to hit New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the weekend and early next week.
As a result, NASCAR has elected to postpone the test, moving it to Monday, July 31, and Tuesday, August 1. Now, instead of the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the test will take place at Richmond Raceway, a 0.75-mile track in Richmond, Virginia.
There will be no changes to the roster for the test session.
ORIGINAL POST (JULY 10, 2023):
On Monday morning, NASCAR announced a highly anticipated two-day test session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway set for Monday, July 17th, and Tuesday, July 18th.
In all, six drivers and teams will participate in the test session including Christopher Bell, who drives the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Harrison Burton, who drives the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, William Byron, who drives the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Justin Haley, who drives the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, Ryan Preece, who drives the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, and Erik Jones, who drives the No. 43 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB Chevrolet.
While NASCAR has not officially announced the reason for the test session, which will be conducted over the two days following the NASCAR Cup Series Crayon 301 race weekend at New Hampshire, the general feeling in the garage is that the session will be used to test out some different strategies to improve the short track package for the Next Gen car.
Several NASCAR Cup Series drivers spoke about the ideas being thrown around for the test session in their media availabilities at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Essentially, we have made a splitter that creates lift in clean air, and essentially, the goal is that whenever you get into traffic, and you lose airflow to your splitter, you would essentially have more downforce than you would be yourself,” Christopher Bell explained at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
William Byron also confirmed that the changes being tried in New Hampshire will be with the front splitter.
“It’s a front splitter change, for the most part,” Byron explained. “It takes away, I was hearing, over 50% of the downforce. Quite a bit different than we have now, so it should change everything, really of how it affects the car. Hopefully, that leads to good passing and good racing.”
While Byron, who won this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and has a series-high four wins this year, is excited that the spitter could improve the short track package in the NASCAR Cup Series, he hopes it doesn’t make the car impossible to drive by itself.
“I just hope it’s not too bad to drive by yourself to where you’re just on pins and needles out there,” Byron said. “I hope it’s a good change where you can make laps by yourself and you can race with others and not feel the effects very much.”
While racing has been incredible with the new car at the 1.5-mile intermediates and has picked up where the previous car left off on the superspeedway-style race tracks, the car has left a little to be desired on short tracks and road courses.
Hopefully, at the end of the two days, the sanctioning body and teams are able to hone in on changes that will drastically improve the product for tracks — like Phoenix Raceway, the site of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race — that utilize the short track package.