Steve O’Donnell, the latest guest to join the “Stacking Pennies” podcast with Corey LaJoie, had plenty to share.
O’Donnell, the sport’s COO, offered candor on a multitude of pressing topics surrounding the sport at the forefront of the offseason, including potential upcoming changes to the Next Gen car, possible international events and ongoing discussions with manufacturers.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season saw the Next Gen vehicle debut and bring with it plenty of upside – 19 different winners, compelling racing and more parity. But criticism remained around the on-track product at both short tracks and road courses. O’Donnell conceded those areas need work and will be addressed ahead of the 2023 season.
“I agree with the fans,” O’Donnell told LaJoie and Co. “Small body of work, right? We didn’t have that many races [on short tracks]. But you take Martinsville, for instance, and the thing that caught my eye – and you heard this from BJ [McLeod], a good race car driver, right? But he’s a lap down, and he’s able to hold off the leader, I think, for what, 50 laps, right? Just kind of shifting and getting off the gas. And that’s a problem for us.
Power components also remain a hot-button topic as manufacturers consider moving further toward electric or other power sources for their vehicles. NASCAR continues to look at those options, O’Donnell said, but all factors must make sense too.
NASCAR has not seen a new manufacturer enter the sport since Toyota joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004, eventually leaping to Cup in 2007. O’Donnell stressed talks are ongoing and have gotten close, but added it remains difficult to say whether a new manufacturer will join in the next five years.
Interest is also stemming from cities around the continent that don’t yet have Cup racing on its doorstep. The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ inaugural visit to Portland (Oregon) International Raceway in June — highlighted by full grandstands despite considerable rain — emphasized an appetite for racing in America’s Northwest region. But calls are also being made from across both sides of the United States’ borders.
For more details on O’Donnell’s conversation with LaJoie, tune into this week’s episode of “Stacking Pennies.“
— NASCAR.com —