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Mark Martin Destroys NASCAR’s Next-Gen “Downforce” Evolution, Triggering Heavy Backlash From Core Fans

Published 03/09/2024, 3:25 PM EST

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The NASCAR Next-Gen car is an engineering marvel that saw the sport take a big leap to introduce parity among all drivers. While the new car brought in tons of changes, the biggest was the addition of a front splitter and rear diffuser. The reason for adding these components to the cars was to generate more downforce. Thus, it was a big aerodynamic change to the design.

These changes allow the cars to tail the lead car and not get loose. This was different from older versions of the cars, as they oversteered on the corners, trying to get too close to the car in front of them. Henceforth, the design of the car gained importance in dictating the outcome of the race and ignited a new style of racing. One that is not appreciated by the NASCAR icon, Mark Martin.

Mark Martin is not a fan of Next Gen cars’ new aerodynamic feature

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For a car to have optimum speed, it requires downforce and drag. If there is an increase in drag, the racecar runs faster in the straights. Whereas more downforce equals better grip on the turns, Interestingly, there’s a trade-off to getting heavy on one of these aspects. And by the looks of it, the Next Gen cars have turned to more downforce for better grip and to make up for the lost speed on straights.

The new aerodynamic design of the Next Gen cars thus allows the chasing pack to get really close to the leaders, without getting loose like they used in the older version. Questioning NASCAR’s move with the new aerodynamic design on the Next Gen, Martin took to X and wrote, “In 1990 my car made 0 front downforce. No downforce, no lift. It made around 275 pounds of rear downforce. It was similar to our completions numbers and we could run in the top 5 every week.”

He even pointed out how the Cup car now can tail the leading car and form a sort of aero-pack racing. “There was absolutely no aero tight ever. You would get a little loose with someone close behind you. I just don’t understand why we were allowed to ever get away from those numbers.”

Martin’s comments rallied the emotions of traditional NASCAR fans, who were also not sold on the aero-heavy design of the new Cup Series car.

Fans react to Mark Martin’s scrutiny of the Next Gen car’s aerodynamic features

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Technology and inventions are put in place for drivers to elevate their racing skills. However, with the new features and design put in place by NASCAR for their new car, fans believe the results of the races now are not in the control of drivers or crew chiefs.

One fan was quick to point out how non-racers and so-called experts have taken over NASCAR. “Then the nerds took over”.

Taking a jibe at NASCAR, another fan wrote, “That was back when NASCAR was in the business of racing. Not entertainment”.

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Questioning the involvement of too many engineers in the team, a user wrote, “To many engineers are in racing today with crazy ideas. They took the sport out of the driver’s hands. NASCAR was a much better sport when the owners, crew & drivers were setting up the cars and in control”.

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Calling out the Next Gen car as a failed racing product, an angry fan added, “Product isn’t real racing now. They f**ked up by adding a splitter and all this other bs. I’d like to see them actually wheel the car again like you guys did back in the day and rely on mechanical grip”.

With a new short-track race package in play, it will be interesting to see how the teams and drivers tune their rides ahead of race on Sunday. More importantly, the qualifying rounds will paint a picture of how well prepared the teams are owing to the changes in the racing package.

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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