Erik Jones is the next driver to get a shot in the NASCAR Cup Series‘ Next Gen car. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver tested the future Cup vehicle at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The car, scheduled for début in 2021, was first tested by Austin Dillon at Richmond Raceway in October. It was then cycled into the Ford camp with Joey Logano testing at Phoenix Raceway in December. Unlike those two tests, Jones’ Homestead session was open for fans and media to attend (the former being allowed if they purchased tickets to the track’s Dixie Vodka 400).
It is also the first Next Gen run on a 1.5-mile track, as Richmond is a short track and Phoenix is one mile long. By conducting tests on various track layouts, it allows NASCAR to figure out setups for the car across each type of race course. Road courses and superspeedways are the remaining track types that have yet to see NextGen action.
All three tests have featured a generic-body Next Gen car as manufacturers continue to work on their unique designs. Jones’ car featured various differences from those at previous tests, including a larger spoiler. The cockpit also contained a sequential transmission rather than the traditional H-shaped pattern. In videos of the test, one might also notice the gearbox contains at least five speeds instead of the usual four.
“I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress, it’s been good,” Jones said in a Twitter video breaking down the car’s interior:
In response to criticism of the car’s sound on Twitter, he quipped, “Sounds like [D]ays of Thunder to me”.