Erik Jones tested NASCAR’s Next Gen car at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday, January 15-16. It was the first test held on a mile and a half speedway.
Quotes about the test from Jones and John Probst of NASCAR:
Erik Jones Quotes from Next Gen Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Erik Jones on his thoughts before the test
I had the chance to look at the car when it was at JGR for a couple days, but it was kind of an unknown for me. Obviously, it’s a lot different than what we’ve raced in the past, and a different way of getting to where you need to be. I was a bit unsure of how it was going to drive and how it was going to react. I knew there would be some stuff to work through at the beginning of the test and that we’d be learning as we go. But at the same time, it was really exciting to have an opportunity to drive it.
Erik Jones on the general test progression
Richmond seemed to be more of a systems check than anything. Phoenix was more development and working getting the car better and better and improving things. We started here with sort of a baseline systems check for a mile-and-a-half track to get a good base of what they’re going to work on over the next few months, and what direction to go. I think it’s been very valuable so far.
Erik Jones on the difference in feel compared with the current car
It’s definitely a big aero change. We have a lot of sideforce in our cars now and there is a lot to lean on – when you get loose the car kind of corrects itself and straightens itself out. This car doesn’t really have any of that. The quarter panels are so short and there’s no offset in the car – it’s very symmetrical – so there’s not a lot to lean on in this car. I think a lot of the aero changes they’ve done are going to help as far as racing goes, especially racing in a pack. Other than that, as we were working on things, some driving characteristics are similar. I think there is definitely more grip to be had as far as what the car is capable of. I think as far as development goes, there is going to be a lot more mechanical grip available than what we currently have.
Erik Jones on adjusting to a sequential shifter
The shifting has been fun, it’s been different. I’ve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the gears; we did a restart at the end of the day yesterday and it was fun learning about that and how you can push that gear box. That really gets you excited for the road courses and what it’s going to be capable of there.
Erik Jones on his role in helping develop the new car.
I’ve never been a part of developing something new in any series. So to be the first guy in it on a mile-and-a-half has been cool. It’s been a learning experience for everybody, but it’s been fun. I think we’ve come a long way in a short time here. I think NASCAR’s learned a lot, I know I’ve learned a lot, and there will be a lot of cool stuff going forward. It’s definitely been cool to be a part of.
John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, Quotes from Next Gen Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway
John Probst on the car’s development since the Phoenix test
We continue to work in the wind tunnel, we’re developing rear diffusers to generate more rear downforce. One of the big things we have here that we didn’t have at Phoenix is we added some of the lift-off devices that we’ve developed over the winter, including roof flaps. We also have a few other related items in development that aren’t on the car right now such as flap-down doors for the diffuser to get the liftoff speed even higher than what we run today.
John Probst on the decision to test at Homestead
Homestead is a good track for us as we try to make a progression through track types, speeds and loads. We started at Richmond, a short track with relatively low loads, graduated to Phoenix that has higher speeds and higher loads. Homestead is the next step in terms of speed as we get into the intermediate tracks. It’s also a track that has a lot of different lines you can take through the corner. The progressive banking here allows you to start at the bottom, and if the car is tight you can ride it up and complete the turn. This is a very forgiving track for us to come to and continue learning about the car as we develop it.
John Probst on the preparation coming to a mile-and-a-half track
We take things and lessons learned from having the car at short tracks, and we apply those same lessons coming here. This test has had a few learning opportunities – we’ve learned that some traditional “rules of thumb” don’t apply to the new car, and we’ve got the parts to deal with that. But those are important lessons to learn as we go to new track types. Moving to a larger track, you really look at gearing to make sure we have the right RPMs, obviously safety is important when you come to a track like this and speeds get up in the 190-mph range. You really have to be prepared if something were to happen where a car gets sideways or backwards that it stays on the ground.
John Probst on next steps
We’ve actually started the manufacturing of the Phase 3 prototype which will take all of the lessons learned from the tests we’ve previously had. Once that is built, we’ll probably start using this car as a ‘second car’ to start simulating cars in traffic to see what we can learn from that.
This car has one more test for us – in Fontana immediately following the race weekend (Monday and Tuesday). There are some logistical reasons that make sense for us to stay and test. But it’s also important to get some rubbered in conditions of what it’s like in a race. We want to replicate that as best as we can so when we go back to race, there are no new lessons to learn.
We still look forward to taking this to superspeedways and road courses, we have a lot to learn there as well. We’ll go back and iterate on what we have now, but we feel like we’re in a good spot. We’re going to keep developing and working on what we’ve got, and we think we’re going to end up with a really good product.
— NASCAR —