With the 2020 NASCAR season successfully in the books, there is still plenty to talk about around the pub table. We’re going to touch upon topics you might end up discussing around a bucket or two.
Next Gen car test at Charlotte
On Monday, the Next Gen car had a test session on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Champions Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. each drove a car to see how it handled and reacted in a road course situation.
With more left and right turns added to the schedule starting next year, the road courses are becoming more and more important. Yes, the new car doesn’t debut until 2022, but the future starts now and NASCAR is working towards the car’s debut.
Truex drove a car prepared by Action Motorsports, an ISMA team, while Busch drove a car prepared by Richard Childress Racing and NASCAR.
They both shared some cockpit insight from their test sessions.
“It feels like the first day of school because of how different the car is,” Busch said. “With the sequential gearbox, that’s the most fun. I love shifting through the gears. Sequentially, you have to go second, third, fourth, fifth, and then you have to go back fourth, third, second. It’s not your typical H-pattern that we’ve had.
“The brakes are much bigger and the car can stop a lot quicker. Overall, the car’s first impression is that it’s fun, it’s exciting and different. I encourage everybody to dig into it to find its differences and to respect the process NASCAR is going through to implement all these new, exciting components.
“A new front bulkhead, a new rear bulkhead and, overall, the car’s driving and its feel. Out on the ROVAL, it feels like I’m qualifying every lap because of how impressive the lap times are and how much grip the car has in certain spots of the race track.”
One aspect of the test session was to see how Goodyear tires would respond under the car with more sturdy suspension and bigger tires going from 15 to 18 inches. The tire manufacturer brought compounds used at Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma Raceway to put them through the paces.
“The biggest difference I see is tire temps are way down,” Truex said. “We’re able to feel like we can start to making these tires softer, already.
“The general consensus is with the same weight car and more tire surface area; you can actually go softer on the compound. Hopefully, that’s something that will help us out.”
Both cars will take to the oval track simultaneously on Wednesday, making it the first time two Next Gen cars test together.
John Hunter Nemechek – hunting, or being hunted?
Rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver John Hunter Nemechek announced on Monday via Social Media he and Front Row Motorsports were parting ways.
Normally, when the driver initiates the changes citing how much he appreciates all the team did for him, that means he has a new deal. To do something like that at this time of the year without a ride usually doesn’t work out.
So, the question of whether Nemechek is hunting down another team, or one has already hunted him down – and signed him – should be answered quite quickly
Cole Custer is your Cup Series RoY
Rookie of the Year honors went to Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer for the 2020 season. Being a “yellow striper” in any series is a tough task, but to do it in Cup with the way race and weekend schedules were conducted this year makes it even more difficult.
“Definitely a lot of ups and downs,” said Custer, driver of the No. 41 Ford. “I think with any rookie year it’s like that, but this year was probably to the extreme by not having practice, not having testing and not having qualifying. It definitely wasn’t an easy year to be a rookie, but I think we all made the best out of it and I think we all made a lot of progression throughout the year.
From our standpoint to have a race win and to make the playoffs, I think we can call it a success. Did we want to run better a lot of the time? Yeah, for sure, but I think we definitely made some huge strides in making more consistent runs. I think it’s just a matter of taking it to the next level to be consistently in the next group of cars.”
More wheelman news
Jeb Burton was tapped by Kaulig Racing to driver their No. 10 Chevrolet next year on a full-time basis. The son of Ward Burton, Jeb has had part-time campaigns the past few years with some impressive runs. Will be interesting to see what he can do full time.
Daniel Hemric and Joe Gibbs Racing announced they are teaming up for a full-time deal in the Xfinity Series next season. Hamric went from Cup with Richard Childress Racing to NXS with JR Motorsports. He will now drive a Toyota for JGR.
Brett Moffit out of trucks and into NXS after signing full time with Our Motorsports. As noted during our Champions Show, Moffitt didn’t mince words after losing a bid for his second Truck Series championship when he stayed out for the championship race GWC finish. During his post-race interview at Phoenix, he called out GMS Racing for continued mismanaged race calling.
One seat goes empty at GMS, don’t expect it to stay that way long. And, this is why the team announced Chase Purdy will race full time for GMS starting next year. Purdy ran seven Truck events for the team in 2020
One Big Banquet this year
Hey, it’s 2020…the year everything has been…2020. So, nobody was too shocked to hear NASCAR will be crowning champions and honoring other award winners in one big banquet for all three top series this year.
Instead of making their way to Nashville again, the Cup Series will share the stage with NXS and Truck Series teams Wednesday night, November 18 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN-TV.