NASCAR: The key disadvantage of the Next Gen car

Timmy Hill, MBM Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Timmy Hill, MBM Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

MBM Motorsports owner Carl Long believes that the Next Gen car for the NASCAR Cup Series could actually hurt the sport’s part-time teams.

NASCAR‘s Next Gen car made its public debut in early May ahead of its official launch for the 2022 Cup Series season. The car was originally slated to be introduced for this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused those plans to be delayed.

One of the primary aims of the Next Gen car, which is set to be run at the sport’s top level for the foreseeable future, is to lower costs of competition for teams.

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However, for part-time teams such as MBM Motorsports, this won’t necessarily be the case, according to team owner Carl Long.

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“They projected that it will be less expensive after you get through the newness and buying the new equipment,” Long told Beyond the Flag.

“The only thing that I see an issue with right now, and I don’t know how they’re going to resolve it, is it seems that the differential that they have in it, the transaxle, is going to be quite a cost — not so much a cost to operate it, but the way it’s set up. They don’t allow you to work on your own transaxle.

“The transaxle is your transmission and your axle together, sort of like a Volkswagen Beetle transmission. You have to have a transaxle for short tracks and road courses. They have ratios that they run for those. And then they have ratios that they run on medium-speed tracks and ratios that they run on high-speed tracks.

“We’re not allowed to change our own gears and stuff like that, so we have to send them back to Xtrac. So Xtrac services it, but they have to have a two-week turnaround time on servicing the gears and putting the transmissions back together. So that means I need to buy a short track transaxle, I need to buy a medium track transxale, and I need to buy a big track transaxle, and then I need to turn around and buy a spare for each one of them.

“If I run Atlanta and then I need to go to Vegas and I need to turn the transaxle back in, I gotta have two weeks for them to serve it. And they cost $46,000 a piece. That’s the part that I see that is extremely costly. You figure it into the cost of the car, okay, we counted that, and we’re looking at somewhere close to $300,000 by the time we get through with the car. But if I gotta buy six transaxles at $46,000 a piece, that’s a lot more money than what we were expecting.”

Long spoke about how what he and his team are facing is different than what some of the larger, more well-funded full-time teams are facing.

“It only really affects guys that are part-time, that you have to have all of that stuff,” Long explained. “If you’re a full-time team and you buy six cars, all you gotta do is have three transaxles that are your spares, pretty much. So if you look at the total cost of it, it’s not too bad.

“Me, having to have six of them for one car — them, they would have a whole other car that has a short track transmission or a road course transmission in it. If you have the budget to run all year, it doesn’t affect them near as hard as it does me, having to have a backup.”

But he remains optimistic.

“Maybe we’ll get into a situation where Xtrac will have a loaner transaxle or something that we can rent and use if they’re not able to service our stuff quick enough. I don’t know; that’s just a guess. Maybe it could happen, maybe it don’t. I’m not sure.”

While he only plans to run one car in next year’s Daytona 500 instead of two like he had initially wanted, Long is already preparing for 2022.

“Just buying parts… just getting parts as they’re available,” he said. “We’re only scheduling to build ourselves one car and see what the cost of it is and then what we have to do with the transaxles. We were going to build two cars, but after looking at all these transaxles, I’m not exactly sure. You just gotta count your money and see what you can spend it on, and I did want to put two cars together to go to the Daytona 500, but it may just be one right now.”

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The Next Gen car is scheduled to make its official Cup Series debut on Sunday, February 20, 2022 in the 64th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.