Alex Bowman hopes the two-day organizational test at the Charlotte Roval with the Next Gen car will consist of “a whole lot of learning.”
Teams will be on track Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. It is the first organizational test NASCAR is holding for the new car, and 21 teams are expected to participate. Teams are limited to one car per a two-car organization or two cars per three or four-car organization. However, multiple drivers can test a car.
“I think there are still a lot of question marks about the car that we want to learn,” Bowman said. “I think there are things NASCAR wants to learn. So, we’re just going to hopefully dial it in. I’m excited to get two days on a road course of testing. I feel like I don’t have a lot of road course background, and it’s something I can continue to improve on. Improving myself as a race car driver over the next two days will be a lot of fun.”
Many of the drivers participating in the test will be driving the car for the first time. In preparation for the test, Kevin Harvick drove the Next Gen car around the Stewart-Haas Racing parking lot last week to get acclimated to the cockpit.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable inside of it,” Harvick said. “There is just way less room in the car. The bar is right next to your head. The roof hatch doesn’t line up. There is a duct in the middle of the window on the right side. So, there is a lot to get used to there.
“It’s a big change as far as the inside of the car. You can’t see out of the back of the car very well. There are just a lot of things to wrap your arms around and get comfortable with.”
Kyle Larson sat in the car recently to get fitted for a seat, mirrors, and the shifter. But Larson knows it’ll look and feel different when the car is on the ground and the track.
“I’m excited to see how it drives,” said Larson. “I’m kind of going in with no expectations and take it slow and not wreck the car for the other guys.”
Those expected to participate are:
No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet – Kaz Grala
No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Ford – Kevin Harvick & Aric Almirola
No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – Kyle Larson
No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet – Corey Lajoie
No. 8 Richard Childress Racing – Chevrolet Tyler Reddick
No. 12 Team Penske Ford – Ryan Blaney
No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Ford – Chase Briscoe & Cole Custer
No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet – AJ Allmendinger & Justin Haley
No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – Chris Buescher
No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – Martin Truex Jr.
No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford – Austin Cindric
No. 22 Team Penske Ford – Joey Logano
No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota – Bubba Wallace
No. 27 Hezeberg/Reaume Ford – Loris Hezemans & Jacques Villenueve
No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet – Ross Chastain
No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet – Erik Jones
No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – Alex Bowman
No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet – Joey Hand & Cody Ware
No. 94 GMS Racing Chevrolet – Ty Dillon
No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet – Daniel Suarez
Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. have previously tested the car but expect this time around to be very different from the original prototypes. Logano said there would be a lot to learn in a short amount of time, not just for the driver, crew chief, and engineer, but the mechanics working on the car.
“You have to make the most out of the test to try to get ahead because it’s such an underdeveloped car right now,” Logano said. “We don’t know what works and doesn’t work. We have to figure that stuff out pretty quickly.”
Welcome to the future #NASCAR #NextGen pic.twitter.com/B9iqVTKwsg
— RCR (@RCRracing) October 11, 2021
Truex added, “There is going to be a lot of learning, a lot of trying things. Maybe seeing where our cars are compared to the other manufacturers, competition, etc. All those things. See where you are and see where you need to go.
“Then something I’ve heard a lot about is the heat. I didn’t have to deal with it when I drove; it was really cold here. The way the car was put together was all different, and it wasn’t an issue. It’s been a big issue this summer. We’ll see if the heat is still an issue and if they found anything to fix that.”
One of the other variables both Logano and Truex will be dealing with is the rear-view mirror. Truex believes his team will work with and without during the two-day test.
“It’ll be interesting,” he said.
Logano is torn on the rear-view mirror. On the one hand, Logano thinks it’s a good idea. But on the other, there are some issues.
“The depth perception of it is pretty hard to get used to,” he said. “I guess you will over time, but it’s kind of hard to see how far someone is from the back of your car a lot of times. I guess I’ll learn how to do that better over time, but right now, I don’t feel comfortable with it. But it’s a new car. You never feel comfortable with something you use the first time.”
The most important thing is every driver and team looks forward to getting track time.
“I think it’s really good to try to get laps in that car,” said Ryan Blaney.
There are three more organizational tests set after the Charlotte Roval. Teams will get time on the Charlotte oval next month, at Phoenix in December and Daytona in January.