NASCAR faces more questions about new car after Bristol party
Kyle Busch deserved better than two failed Toyota engines in the first round of the NASCAR playoffs.
But at least Busch knows what happened to end his night at Bristol Motor Speedway and leave him “dumbfounded” that he was eliminated from the playoffs.
Martin Truex Jr.? He could only laugh as he stood in the garage next to his broken down car while the other Toyota driver, Bubba Wallace, went in for repairs.
“There’s another one,” he said with a smile. Truex also addressed Kevin Harvick’s words after his car caught fire in the opening playoff race at Darlington three weeks ago.
“What does Harvick say?” Truex said of his own Saturday night edition. Shit pieces.
At least a dozen of the playoff drivers had some sort of issue with NASCAR’s new Next Gen car at Bristol, where the spec car that leveled the playing field was left exposed to a myriad of durability issues that followed in his entire debut season.
Ford’s field suffered from a wave of blown tires, Toyota was plagued by power steering failures, drivers vying for the win were knocked out of contention by any number of mechanical goblins, and getting through was a no-brainer.
The 12 go-ahead changes were the fewest in more than a dozen years at Bristol, with only four of those passes going under green.
“Just hard to pass,” Harvick said. “The car is too fast in the corners. I can not run.
Harvick was in position to fight for the win until a wheel fell off his Ford during the final round of pit stops and knocked him out of the playoffs.
Now there’s a new round of questions surrounding Next Gen, an industry-wide project to develop a single-source parts car that contains costs and helps small teams bridge the gap with NASCAR’s mighty organizations. It worked, as Chris Buescher on Saturday night became the record-tying 19th different Cup winner this season .
Buescher’s win marked the first time since this version of the NASCAR playoffs was established that drivers not contending for the title swept the entire round. Erik Jones won at Darlington and Wallace at Kansas; He’s also not a playoff driver, and neither is Buescher, who scored his second career win in his 250th career start.
But Buescher won by lengthening his final two-tire pit stop the final 61 laps of the 500-mile race, as a lack of tire wear (save for that rash of blown-out right-handers on the Fords) kept runner-up Chase Elliott on four new tires comfortably in his rearview mirror.
The Next Gen has been dogged by safety concerns since rumors of disastrous crash tests during the development phase, and those issues have only intensified since July when a qualifying crash gave the Kurt Busch a concussion that kept him out of competition for nearly two months. other drivers reported feeling the force of impact during crashes much worse than ever, and a series of fires at Darlington prompted NASCAR to make a number of rule changes.
Now there is a new round of complaints after Bristol, where Harvick’s teammates Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick were eliminated from the playoff field.
“We need NextGen 2.0. I just have to figure out who’s going to pay for it,” tweeted Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is part owner of the 23XI Racing team that has been without Kurt Busch for nine races.
“Passing was just impossible,” Hamlin said after the race. He also had a blown tire at Bristol, but felt the difficulty in passing was the biggest problem.
“I would like to see the racing improve in general. Some lap time variation a bit. We’re just running around and it’s like we’re running faster in the corners than on the straightaways,” Hamlin said. “We had some steering issues, and it seems our Toyota team-mates had steering issues as well.”
Yes, all six Toyotas had a problem, from tires for Hamlin and Christopher Bell, steering problems for Truex, Wallace and Ty Gibbs, and engine failure for Kyle Busch.
And it was a mixed night for Brad Keselowski, who won the first stage of the race for his first stage win of the season and looked to be in position to contend for his first win of the season. Keselowski moved from Team Penske to RFK Racing this season to drive with an ownership stake in Jack Roush’s team, and he desperately wanted to give RFK his first victory.
But then his tire blew while leading with 87 laps remaining and Keselowski’s trip to victory lane was to congratulate teammate Buescher. He acknowledged that getting through was tough, but said it’s not supposed to be easy, and said NASCAR must continue to work on Next Gen.
“Would I like to see us continue working on the cars? Absolutely. I’ve told NASCAR this and I’ve told the media before and I’ll say it again: ‘If the next-gen car looks the same as this year, then we failed,’” Keselowski. he said. “We should keep growing. We should keep learning. We should keep doing better. There are probably some car owners who don’t want to hear it because it costs money to change cars.
“There’s the ‘everything is wrong with this car’ camp and there’s the ‘nothing is wrong with this car’ camp,” Keselowski added. “I would like to continue working on it. It seems a lot like many things today that polarization means there is no room for middle ground. The way I see it, I’d like to see some small tweaks, but I’m grateful and proud of our sport and where the Next Gen car has taken us so far.”