NASCAR official addresses Next-Gen issues at Bristol
Fox Torey | NASCAR Studios
On Tuesday, a senior NASCAR competition official addressed the level of attrition during Saturday night’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, providing context around some of the power steering issues on the short track, how parts to single source have been chosen and adding that there remains a learning curve with the Next Gen car.
Scott Miller, senior vice president of NASCAR competition, made the remarks during a Tuesday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. His comments came three days after Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops night race at the 0.533-mile track in Tennessee, where the playoff-eligible field was reduced from 16 to 12 drivers.
RELATED: Bristol Official Results | Cup Series Ranking
Eight of the 36 drivers were not racing at the finish of the 500 lap event. Three of the six Toyota teams experienced power steering issues, and a fourth – Kyle Busch’s #18 – was sidelined with engine issues. These issues, which were compounded by tire issues on the high-inclined concrete track, prompted criticism from several riders regarding the design of the Next Gen racer, which made its Cup Series debut this season. .
Miller responded to those Tuesdays, borrowing a phrase used by Kevin Harvick at Darlington and repeated Saturday night by Martin Truex Jr., Bristol’s latest finisher after power steering issues.
“Bristol is definitely a unique load case, and some unexpected things happened with the management,” Miller told SiriusXM. “But honestly, no excuses, but, you know, with the newness of this car and the newness of everything, I think it’s not okay to have problems, but it’s probably part of the learning process for all of us. All of the teams and OEMs were involved in the RFP (request for proposal) process when we chose the parts, so everyone has a stake in that, and it’s not just NASCAR that chooses crappy parts in quotes.
Miller said competition officials had scheduled a meeting Tuesday morning with representatives from Goodyear to debrief their findings in Bristol. As for any other reliability issues, Miller said his R&D Center department is busy looking for fixes.
“Well, every part of this car being actually a new part and a new design, I think historically, in racing and in any walk of life, when you do something completely new with a start , there’s a learning curve,” Miller said. . “So we’re on this learning curve and, you know, we’re working really hard to make sure everything works. And I think for the most part it is. We had some management issues in Bristol. This is, again, a part that was chosen through the bidding process, and is repairable by the team. So, you know, that’s where we are right now. Do we seek to improve when we have problems? We are absolutely 100%, every day.
In other topics covered on Tuesday:
• Miller answered questions about the warning flags and their timing, reiterating that each case of contact or trouble on the track is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“Each event is unique. Every visual we have on an incident is also unique,” Miller said. “We don’t have 36 pairs of eyes glued to each car. We have a group of us up there who act as observers. You don’t always see the start of an incident, and you have to report it. Anyone who sees it reports it to the race director. The race director analyzes the situation as he sees it and issues caution at his discretion on what he sees.
“Now we don’t have the ability to obviously go watch the replays and watch the incident. The caveats are nice…you know they’re a quick call, and there’s going to be some judgment in those- this, no matter how you look at it. So that’s, I’d like to say that… I’d like to be able to define what creates a warning and what doesn’t, but it’s impossible because everything is…every incident is completely different from the last, and completely different from the next.”
• Miller also offered a preview of Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, US, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM) at Texas Motor Speedway. The race opens the round of 16 of the Cup Series qualifiers.
Miller said the asphalt surface of the 1.5-mile track would be treated with a resin and the rubber would be applied with a “Tire Dragon” in an effort to widen the racing groove.
“It’ll be Resin and Tire Dragon at the start of the weekend, and we’ll leave it,” Miller said. “We’ll also probably go a lane higher in (turns) three and four, just to try to give some more racing space there. It may not turn into a race hall, but if they get out of the groove, at least there will be something to grab. So that’s what we’re doing for the weekend.