While the Next Gen car provided a lot of exciting moments in its debut season, it also received a number of criticisms.
After much anticipation and a year’s delay, the era of the Next Gen car finally began in the 2022 season. In some way, it leveled the field and it was evident in the number of drivers that won at least one race.
There were 19 different winners, which is a tied record (2001) for most drivers with a win in NASCAR’s modern era. Furthermore, there were five first-time winners.
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But on the negative side, there was growing concern regarding the safety of the Next Gen car, and many drivers including Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott, were very vocal about it.
William Byron joined in the criticism by highlighting the issue and expecting improvements for the season year with the car. Speaking in the Gametime with Boomer Esiason podcast, the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 driver said:
“Yeah, I think that it’s certainly a concern. Having a couple of drivers have concussions right now is not what we want. NASCAR is going to work on it and we’re going to get better. It’s the first year, like we’ve talked about, first year with the car. It is a little too stiff. We’ve got to go to work on trying to make it softer, so it crushes more when you hit the wall. I think we’ll have some ideas for that in the off-season. Hopefully, next year we can put all this stuff behind us. Some of the increased concussions, things like that.”
The issue intensified after two Cup drivers, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman suffered concussion-like symptoms in different crashes, leading to the drivers missing a number of races.
Recently, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said that drivers don’t truly feel what they are saying regarding the safety of the Next Gen car. Nonetheless, he also promised that NASCAR will make the necessary changes for drivers to feel safe.