The Next Gen race car, expected to make its debut in NASCAR Cup Series competition in 2021, underwent its third test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday. It was the first test for the car at a mile-and-a-half race track, following tests at Richmond Raceway in October and Phoenix Raceway in December.
âIâve never been a part of developing something new in any series,â Jones said, according to a tweet from Joe Gibbs Racing [@JoeGibbsRacing]. âSo to be the first guy in it on a mile-and-a-half has been cool. Itâs been a learning experience for everybody, but itâs been fun. I think weâve come a long way in a short time here.â
The next test is scheduled for March 2 and 3 at Auto Club Speedway, soon after the race weekend at the track. So far, each manufacturer has participated in a test. Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon drove the car at Richmond and Ford driver Joey Logano at Phoenix. Jones is a Toyota driver. In all three tests, so far, the car has carried a non-manufacturer-specific body.
âObviously, itâs a lot different than what weâve raced in the past, and a different way of getting to where you need to be,â Jones said. âI was a bit unsure of how it was going to drive and how it was going to react.â
Differences between the Next Gen car and the car the series is using now include a vertical sequential shifter.
âThe shifting has been fun; itâs been different,â Jones said. “Iâve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the gears.â
The Next Gen car remains under development, and according to NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, a phase three prototype is already in production. When it is rolled out, the version of the car already being tested probably will serve as a second car in tests.
“We still look forward to taking this to superspeedways and road courses; we have a lot to learn there as well,â Probst said, as quoted in an NBC Sports article. “Weâll go back and iterate on what we have now, but we feel like weâre in a good spot. Weâre going to keep developing and working on what weâve got, and we think weâre going to end up with a really good product.”