It might have received a fair share of praise and criticism but the Gen 6 era in NASCAR is about to come to an end.
Introduced in the Cup Series since 2013, the Gen 6 car will see its end with the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway. The Next Gen car to be introduced from next season will replace the chassis.
There are a lot of anticipation and hope for the Next Gen series to make the racing better but the nostalgia for the Gen 6 is already building up on Cup Series crew chiefs.
Defending champion Chase Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson took some moments with Chassis No. 1278 and spoke about the last Gen 6 chassis to be built by Hendrick Motorsports.
“This is really, really cool to me. This is the last Gen 6 chassis built. Certainly the rules are really tight and kind of whittled down, but yeah, we did everything we could on the car. Tried to do everything we could to make it as good as possible.
“There are kind of mixed emotions. Obviously putting a car together to come race for a championship is an amazing feeling and extremely motivating and knowing it’s the last car that we’ll build at Hendrick Motorsports in that form or fashion. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a bit surreal.”
Chris Gabehart, crew chief for Hamlin also lamented the loss of Gen 6 chassis and the value it holds in the NASCAR racing that won’t continue with Next Gen car.
“This sport was built on artistry and these cars are works of art,” said Chris Gabehart, crew chief for Hamlin. “There’s no such thing as perfection. The people who build them could spend endless hours making them a little more perfect each and every minute of each and every day. To a large degree, that is dying. I think it’s honestly unfortunate. I’m not saying it I agree or disagree with it, but racing was built on building the fastest car you knew how to build and then driving it as perfect as you knew how to drive it.
“We’re certainly losing one very significant aspect of that. I think there’s a lot of people in this industry are sad to see it go.”
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The Next Gen car will bring about structural changes in how the cars are produced with roles of hundreds of shop fabricators and mechanics already eliminated with the new model. Cliff Daniels, the crew chief for Larson, spoke about the changes that NASCAR Next Gen car will bring about and said of it as a “very bittersweet moment”.
“A lot of guys in the chassis, body and fab shop do a lot of the work, week in and week out, that maybe we don’t see around our cars on load day or the final stages of our car,” Daniels said. “We had a lot of people around the shop this week, which was great. And they were all the guys who are part of the earlier stages of the process of getting the cars built. To see their energy and their excitement, was pretty cool. Very bittersweet at the same time because you know roles are changing, and things are going to change moving forward.”
This chassis will see its last race with Larson, Elliott, Hamlin and Martin Truex. Jr competition for the last title to be won with Gen 6.