William Byron drove the third prototype of the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen car over a two-day test at Auto Club Speedway, gathering data ahead of the car’s debut next season at the Daytona 500.
“I’ve been happy with it, especially as we’ve been adjusting it more and tailoring it to this track – this is the biggest track it’s been on so far,” said Byron, who was the fourth driver to get behind the wheel of the Next Gen car. “As soon as it started to go for us, I thought the steering felt better and the car felt more stable. It’s been fun the more laps I’ve been able to run.
“It was tough to get a hold of at first, just how fast everything is. The tire doesn’t have the same sidewall, so there is not the same amount of slip that you can hang the car out. You just have to get used to that timing and rhythm of when the car does step out, how quickly can you catch it when it slides the front tires, how quickly does it come back. All those things are a lot different from what we do now.”
Byron’s second day of testing ended a bit early after an incident.
“We were probably six or seven laps into a 25-lap tire run,” Byron explained. “I had been a little free for a couple of corners, but nothing major. That time, I just got loose and figured I’d be able to save it but wasn’t able to. It just came all the way around. I had a number of similar moments in the race Sunday and was able to drive out of it. That’s what caught me off guard the most. It’s part of testing though, learning where the line is with what the car can do.”
“This is exactly why we test,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development John Probst said. “We were able to put almost 300 miles on the car the past two days and captured some valuable data. Because of the nature of a test, we have a lot more data available than during a normal race weekend, including the IDR (incident data recorder) and high-speed camera. We’ll take the car back to North Carolina and evaluate it. This gives us a good opportunity to make sure the car holds up as expected during an incident. We’ll review everything available to us and move forward.”