NASCAR Next Gen Arrives
by Tom Jensen April 05, 2023
Austin Cindric won the 2022 Daytona 500 in his Discount Tire-sponsored No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang.
Thanks to Team Penske, the NASCAR Hall of Fame now has its first NASCAR Next Gen car, which is on display as part of our “Glory Road: 75 Years” exhibit.
The car in question is the No. 2 Discount Tire-sponsored Ford Mustang that Austin Cindric drove to victory in the 2022 Daytona 500. Cindric’s victory came in just his eighth NASCAR Cup Series start and on the 85th birthday of Team Penske owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Roger Penske (Class of 2019).
Cindric’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang was unveiled on Glory Road April 4 at an event attended by the driver, crew chief Jeremy Bullins, the No. 2 team and officials from Team Penske, Ford Performance and sponsor Discount Tire.
It was a special moment for Cindric and the team.
“I think it’s important to have a Next Gen car at this facility, just because of how different it is and being able to see what we race every weekend, but the visual representation of what Glory Road and the Hall of Fame has really meant to the history of our sport,” said Cindric. “… Seeing all the evolutions of that is really important. To be part of it is obviously really cool for everyone involved.”
To be part of it is obviously really cool for everyone involved.
— Austin Cindric
Cindric’s victory in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 qualified him for a spot in NASCAR’s 10-race, season-ending playoffs. In the field of 16 championship contenders, Cindric advanced to the second round of the playoffs, ultimately finishing 12th in points while winning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
“It shows you what’s possible when you drive for Roger Penske and have a team like I have,” said Cindric, the first rookie driver to win the Daytona 500 since Trevor Bayne in 2011.
The Cindric/Team Penske Mustang coming here is huge for several reasons. It’s the actual car that won the first NASCAR Cup Series points race contested by Next Gen cars. It’s also the first Next Gen car to win the Daytona 500. And it’s the first Next Gen car we’ve had on exhibit in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
This car is historically significant enough that for the first time, this edition of Glory Road was expanded to include 19 cars, where the prior four editions were all 18 cars each. When you enter the exhibit, Cindric’s Team Penske Mustang is the first car on Glory Road. We are extremely grateful for Team Penske for lending us their 2022 Daytona-winning car. It’s an honor to have it in the building.
As a refresher, the NASCAR Next Gen car debuted in 2022, and when it did, almost everything about it was new. A clean sheet design, it is the most technologically advanced car NASCAR has ever raced. From an appearance standpoint, the Next Gen Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Toyota Camry are much closer in resemblance to their production counterparts than NASCAR race cars have been in years, maybe decades.
In the case of the Next Gen car, beauty is not skin deep. The most significant changes are below the body. All Next Gen chassis now come from a single supplier, Michigan-based Technique Chassis. The Next Gen chassis is modular, meaning front and rear clips are removable and therefore replaceable in the event of collision damage. Composite bodies are also more durable in case of minor contact than the former steel bodies were.
Also new for the Next Gen are the wheels and tires, low-profile 18-inch Goodyear Eagle radials, which are mounted on single lug-nut, lightweight BBS aluminum wheels. These replace the old 15-inch steel wheels that had five individual lug nuts. The new tire-wheel combination is 9 pounds lighter than the ones it replaced.
The new tire-wheel combination is 9 pounds lighter than the ones it replaced.
— Tom Jensen
From a mechanical standpoint, the old four-speed manual transmission has been replaced by a five-speed sequential gearbox. Drivers pull back on the shifter to upshift and push it forward to downshift, instead of shifting in an “h” pattern as in years past. In a radical departure the gearbox is mounted in the rear transaxle, which for the first time in NASCAR history features an independent rear suspension instead of a solid rear axle.
From an aesthetic standpoint, NASCAR moved the numbers from the center of each door forward towards the front wheels, creating more area for designers to incorporate sponsor logos and other graphics into the unique appearance of each car.
From a competition standpoint, the NASCAR Next Gen car was a home run. The 2022 season saw 19 different drivers visit Victory Lane, tying a Modern Era record.
For Team Penske, it was a success, too.
Not only did Cindric win the Daytona 500 for the Penske organization, but Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR All-Star Race, and, most importantly for the team, Joey Logano won his second Cup Series championship in 2022. It was a big year all-around for Team Penske and the NASCAR Next Gen car.
Plan a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and purchase tickets at nascarhall.com/tickets.