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NASHVILLE — The overwhelming consensus among NASCAR Cup Series drivers is the new Next Gen race car, which will debut in 2022, is one of the most radical changes in the history of NASCAR’s premier division.
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Defending Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell believes the Next Gen car represents a more substantive change than, say, NASCAR’s move from bias-ply to radial tires some three decades ago.
McDowell comes from a sports-car background, and there are aspects of the Next Gen car that give him both a sense of comfort and a reason for optimism. The driver’s seat, for example, is shifted more toward the center of the car — more akin to its location in a sports car.
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“You try not to be arrogant, cocky, boastful, but I’m just like that’s a proper race car with a proper foot box and a proper seat positioning,” McDowell said last Thursday at the Music City Center during an interview session with reporters before the NASCAR Awards. “It took me forever to get comfortable in our (Gen 6) cars, but when I jumped into that (Next Gen car), I felt right at home.
“A lot of guys have talked about the steering being too fast and twitchy and all that, but when you turn the wheel, the car’s supposed to turn, and it’s doing that. You don’t have huge sidewall deflection and laziness and all that we had in our old car. It feels like a proper race car to me.”