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Chase Elliott’s entry into the playoff still remains questioned.

The NextGen car, introduced in 2022 at the Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles was seemingly hailed as a game-changer. The car designed to enhance competition, safety, and overall fan experience, followed a series of issues and concerns raised by teams and drivers alike. With complaints regarding the rear-end collisions with the car last season, these issues still remain one of the major concerns for Chase Elliott ahead of his home race in Atlanta.

After the Texas Motor Speedway race, the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro driver, came out in support of fellow driver, Alex Bowman. This was a season where the #48 Chevrolet Camaro driver and Kurt Busch raced with concussions, and Cody Ware was seen racing despite an inoperable foot. Now a year later, in a bold statement, the 2020 Cup Series Champion has called out NASCAR for its seemingly “indifferent” approach towards addressing these crucial issues regarding the NextGen car.

Chase Elliott: Disappointed with NASCAR’s upgrades

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During an interview with Sportsnaut, The Hendrick Motorsport ace expressed his frustration regarding NASCAR’s attempts to improve the racing experience on short tracks and road courses.

Elliott, who has omitted notable races in the first half of 2023, stated, “I missed a lot of the races this year when they took some spoiler away and changed the underbody for the short tracks and road courses and they don’t feel any different to me, I missed the first couple of races, and I came back at Martinsville and it was with that package.”

via Getty

To add to this, his return at the “Half Mile Of Mayhem” after missing 6 races, changes that were said to be applied to the car failed to convince Chase. The No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro driver further lamented, “If you would have told me that nothing changed, I would have believed you.” 

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NextGen’s sealed underbody is a major issue on shorter tracks

To understand NASCAR’s current problem better, it’s important to understand how they arrived at this point. The NextGen car, based on the Australian Supercar, introduced a new component following all the complaints called the sealed underbody which plays a crucial role in generating downforce and ensuring stability during turning into corners. The Evolution car has established headways on longer tracks, but it still poses shortcomings on shorter tracks due to excessive downforce and turbulent air.

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The leading car disrupts the aerodynamics of the following car, causing it to lose grip and push up the track when entering track corners. In cases where the leader is too far into the corner, he can simply switch gears to regain control and accelerate without facing any damage like crashing. This has made it difficult for the following drivers to challenge the race leader and create a more thrilling race environment.

In response to the challenges faced by the drivers on short tracks, NASCAR took a step earlier in the season by making efforts to reduce the overall downforce by 30%. However, Elliott’s comments suggest that these changes made to the car have not led to the results they were hoping for.

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Now, as NASCAR continues to make adjustments to the car and address the issues raised by drivers like Chase Elliott, only time will tell whether their efforts will be successful or not.

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