NASCAR President Steve Phelps spoke about the Nex Gen car and the 2022 season ahead of the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR is going to take a historic step with the debut of the Next Gen car in the 2022 season. Initially, it was scheduled to make its debut in the 2021 season but with the pandemic still at large, NASCAR decided to postpone the debut then.
But as the season comes to a close, Phelps addressed the year and the struggle that the industry as a whole had to go through.
“Last year wasn’t an easy year. But we persevered,” Phelps said. “Frankly we are a stronger sport today than we were pre-pandemic. I would argue with anyone who would say otherwise.
“The Next Gen car is an important part of the future of where NASCAR is going to go. It really hits on a lot of different important things for this sport, whether you’re talking about relevance, you’re talking about styling, you’re talking about bringing this car to a place that, frankly, the existing car can’t bring us to.
“The technology in the car, the data that’s going to spin off that car, all designed to enhance the fan experience. That’s what I think is going to happen here.”
With the challenges that the pandemic posed, one of those was also the venue changes that NASCAR had to make. But looking back at it now, it was a successful year with a number of experiments.
“I think the schedule variation is critical for the success of this sport. I think you saw really strong results from schedule variation, whether you’re talking about COTA, you’re talking about Road America, you’re talking about even format changes like Bristol dirt, which might as well have been a new venue,” Phelps said.
“Ben Kennedy (NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategy and innovation) and the team put together the most aggressive schedule we’ve had in 50 years. I think it worked. Attendance was fantastic at all the new venues; the racing was good at all the new venues.”
The venue changes will still continue in the 2022 season. Phelps said that NASCAR will continue to take these “calculated risks” in the upcoming season.
“As we look to the schedule in 2022, going to the L.A. Coliseum to kick off our debut with our Next Gen car as a proof point frankly to we’re going to be bold in what we’re doing, whether it’s the schedule or the car, all of it – we’re going to take calculated risks.”