NASCAR driver Corie LaJoie and Team Penske tire changer, Ryan ‘Skip’ Flores, recently discussed the ongoing pit stop testing for 2022. From next year, NASCAR is introducing the Next-Gen car, which will be radically different from the outgoing Gen 6.
One of the key elements of the new car will be a departure from five nut wheels to a single nut wheel. This move is aimed at increasing the speed and ease of the pit stops for better, closer racing.
However, as is true of any change in any sport, it takes time to understand and adapt to the changes. And this is what Flores described to LaJoie about the ongoing testing for pit crews. He explained the ‘good news’ is that changing the new tires and everything about it is ‘difficult’.
What the tire changer of Team Penske said?
“Everybody thought it was going to be easier. Hard things are pulling the tires, there’re big brakes and the tire sits deeper inside of the car,” he said.
Flores added, “So the face of the wheel now is further out than what the old tires are and the barrel of the wheel goes in about eight inches further over the suspension than what the old tires did.”
He explained how it’s difficult to pull the tire out considering the big brake rotors and brake callipers on the new car. Flores revealed everybody is getting used to the new independent rear suspension and overall understanding of the mechanics of when the wheel is firmly in place and when it’s not.
New NASCAR tires may fasten tire changing but not make pit stops faster
As testing is underway and pit crews are getting used to the new tires and the car, one thing to be noted here is that a faster tire change may not lead to a faster pit stop.
This is simply because the fuel flow rate and the refuelling procedure is remaining the same. So whatever time is saved on changing tires might mean nothing in the bigger scheme of things.
Sep 26, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) during the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless of these assumptions and predictions, what’s certain is that the changes are coming in 2022. And teams are working on adjusting to the Next Gen car, which will be a big leap for NASCAR towards the future.