The seventh-generation Next Gen car conducted its fourth test over Monday and Tuesday at Auto Club Speedway with William Byron. However, the previous three tests—done with Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, and Erik Jones—utilised the usual five-lug design. The Next Gen will also use a larger aluminum wheel at eighteen inches, developed by BBS Kraftfahrzeugtechnik, a German manufacturer with an American base in Braselton, Georgia near the NASCAR-owned Road Atlanta. BBS has also designed wheels in sports cars and open-wheel racing.
“For us we felt like from a standpoint of the wheel is that we wanted to get to an 18-inch wheel, an aluminum wheel,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development John Probst said. “Once you get to an 18-inch aluminum wheel, the next step for us is to make sure that from a durability standpoint under racing conditions is that it will accept the durability that we need to finish races and then also finish multiple races. To do that, the single nut was our only option.
“I think from a fan standpoint, the choreography of the pit stop will look unchanged,” Probst added in response to concerns about pit stops being affected. “I think that a lot of times when we say single lug nut, people fear that it’s an open-wheel style pit stop where people will be on their knees waiting for the car to come in. We don’t intend to change anything with respect to how the pit-stop flow is executed.
“There will still be guys coming off the wall, there will still be a premium for that athlete to come off the wall, get to the right side of the car, make that tire change, get over to the left side of the car and make the tire change. From the look and feel of the pit stop, we don’t see any significant changes.”
With the lug nut change, tyre changers will have fewer nuts to tighten and loosen, but they will require more torque when servicing the car as switch to aluminum wheels will also affect the nut’s strength. Pit crews are also expected to end the common pre-race procedure of gluing nuts to the tyre.
“I’d hardly say changers hit all 5 with ease, if that was the case you wouldn’t see a variation in times of pit stops,” NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Robby Lyons tweeted. “You can say the the single lug can be hit with ease, sure. But that makes a mistake all the more costly in overall time of the stop. Mess up 1/5, okay. 1/1, rip.”