NASCAR Makes Tech Changes to Try to Reduce Next Generation Car Fires

NASCAR released a technical bulletin on Tuesday instructed his race teams to replace part of the right rear stop panel of the Next Gen car with stainless steel to address the problem of the cars on the right catching fire.

The change comes just days after Kevin Harvick’s car caught fire, knocking him out of the Southern 500 in Darlington.

In the past several races, a problem has arisen – especially among Ford teams – with the Next Gen car. Fires have occurred in the exhaust and rocker box on the right side of the car. While the exact cause of the problem isn’t entirely clear, one hypothesis is that rubber buildup gets trapped in the car and burns.

Multiple drivers were affected, including Chris Buescher and Joey Logano in Indianapolis, Cole Custer in Michigan and Chase Briscoe in Richmond before Harvick and JJ Yeley’s car both caught fire in Darlington.

To reduce the risk of fire, NASCAR has instructed its teams to replace a portion of the polymer backgauge panel on the lower right side of the passenger side of the Next Gen car with a 14 gauge stainless steel panel to be fitted to the inside of the polymer panel. mounted. . Other changes outlined on Wednesday include:

  • The use of intumescent coatings is now permitted on the underside of the lower clamp panels, in the exhaust cover panels, on the top surface of the rocker box and on the right stop panel. This will help provide fire protection to steel components.
  • It has been ordered to install a lateral seal/dam between the back of the front clip weight box and the top of the splitter panel. This will help reduce the reduction of tire debris from the splitter area.
  • NASCAR recommended that when installing the exhaust, the space between the exhaust and the floor of the rocker box should be as large as possible.

The technical bulletin came after Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, directly addressed the issue during an appearance on SiriusXM Radio, expressing a sense of urgency to resolve the issue.

“It’s unacceptable for the cars to catch fire. We’ve been working on different solutions along the way for different things that seem to be the trigger,” Miller said:. “Obviously we still have work to do. We’re looking at clearances for the Ford exhaust in particular, as they seem to be having a little more trouble with this than the others. There’s a lot of work going on, a lot of collaboration within the industry to get to the bottom of it. And of course we have to get to the bottom of that quickly.”

Part of that urgency comes from recent criticism of NASCAR over safety issues with the Next Gen car, the strongest of which has come from Harvick, both before and after his car went up in flames. Just days after he criticized officials for failing to respond adequately to the Next Gen car being too stiff on impact, Harvick ripped NASCAR by blaming “worthless parts” for the fire and mentioning that flames were starting to come through his dashboard.

“We just burn cars, let people crash into things, get hurt. We don’t fix anything,” Harvick says. told reporters in the garage. “They don’t care. It’s cheaper not to fix it.’

While Miller stated on SiriusXM that he wasn’t interested in a war of words with Harvick, he chided the notion that the sanctions body didn’t care about security issues, noting that the idea is “about as far from the truth as you can get” .