NASCAR brought the NextGen car to Auto Club Speedway for its first traditional race and the results were as good as you could have imagined.
However, there is one major issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
NASCAR’s first test introduced newly found parity
NASCAR decided to make organizations receive the same parts from the same vendors in an effort to introduce more parity into the sport like other motorsports, such as IndyCar.
The results for the first race were better than NASCAR likely expected. Nine out of the top-10 finishers in Sunday evening’s race were from different organizations.
This is an incredibly rare occurrence on a non-superspeedway track and one that could usher in a new era of the NASCAR Cup Series.
For example, Erik Jones had arguably the second or third-best car at Auto Club Speedway. Jones drives the No. 43 car for Petty GMS Racing in his second season for the organization.
Jones’ performance was one of the best we have seen from the No. 43 car in over a decade. There was a legitimate possibility the 25-year-old driver would win the race, even over Tyler Reddick before his issue.
Hopefully, this is just a sign of things to come for NASCAR. The idea of having parity throughout the field is intriguing, but eventually, one organization will learn the NextGen car faster than the others.
The NextGen car produces incredible racing
When NASCAR announced the NextGen car would go to 670 horsepower with a four-inch spoiler, it was already primed to have major success this season and beyond.
The idea of giving more horsepower and a smaller spoiler was always going to make the car harder to drive. Well, that’s exactly what the drivers have now.
Practice and qualifying at Auto Club were full of miscues. There were close to 10 spins and wrecks during the two sessions, with issues controlling the car as the primary cause.
Once the race started on Sunday, those mistakes seemed to improve and drivers had a better handle of the vehicle. The racing was incredible and further showed why Auto Club should not be turned into a short track.
There was a massive amount of tire degradation and off throttle time was needed. Both of these factors were not in play with the previous car with 550 horsepower and a massive spoiler.
If Sunday’s race is an example of what the NextGen car will be in the future, NASCAR hit a game-winning grand slam that will propel the sport into new territory.
NASCAR needs to fix the issue with flat tires
NASCAR nailed the NextGen car but there is one massive issue that needs to be addressed immediately if the new car can be taken seriously.
On multiple occasions during the weekend, a driver would not be able to drive if they had flat tires due to a spin or another circumstance.
Josh Bilicki, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, and Ross Chastain all went multiple laps down during the event due to this issue. Bell suffered the worst of it, losing six laps due to flat tires.
It’s simply unacceptable for NASCAR to have allowed an issue that has been known for over a year to ruin the races of four drivers. While the new car will inevitably have new bugs, the teams have every right to be angry.
Last season, flat tires would have the driver sitting at the back of the lead lap if they spun. There needs to be a solution to the issue because it is unfair for the drivers who are affected by it.
There is confidence that NASCAR will address the situation by this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but they need to pull through and fix the issue that plagues the NextGen car the most.