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Kickin The Tires

Wilson explains the challenges and decisions that NASCAR’s Next Gen Car presents

Photo by Garry Eller / Harold Hinson Photography

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – The impending change from the Gen 6 NASCAR Cup Series car to the Next Gen Car presents several challenges and decisions for Toyota Racing Development.

As the debut of the Next Gen Car draws closer, TRD has opted to continue with the Toyota Camry. Although TRD unveiled a fifth-generation Toyota Supra at the Daytona International Speedway Toyota Injector, the OEM decided to continue with the American-made model.

The Camry is built at Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Georgetown, KY. Meanwhile, the Supra is built in the company’s homeland, Japan. Toyota remains the only manufacturer with three different models NASCAR.

“We’re sticking with the Camry that is our bread and butter for Toyota,” explained David Wilson, President and General Manager of Toyota Racing Development. “We of course, build the Camrys in Georgetown, Kentucky, number one selling car for 18-consecutive years. It served us well and we’re actively working on the new Camry body for the Next Gen Car.”

Although TRD has made the decision not to move the Supra up to the NASCAR Cup Series, they did entertain the idea. After several design exercises, the OEM moved forward with the Camry. The model remains the longest active model used in the NASCAR Cup Series, having debuted in 2007.

“We took a look at that before we launched the Gen-five Supra and we even did some design exercises. I can tell you those renderings will probably never see the light of day. But we ultimately decided that Camry was the right model to continue moving forward with. We don’t build Supra in the US.

“Obviously one of the main reasons that Toyota is engaged in NASCAR is to talk to the fans about the cars and trucks that we built in the US so it’s very much an Americanization story and for a Camry that really resonates I think better today than Supra.”

While TRD has decided on which model their brand will utilize, other challenges that the Next Gen Car present still exist. A split focus, one on the NASCAR Cup Series Championship, and the other on development of the Next Gen Car will be faced by the other OEMs, Chevrolet and Ford, as well.

Development and testing of the Next Gen Car began in 2019. TRD won the NASCAR Cup Series Championship with Kyle Busch behind the wheel of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Further testing, including multi-car testing, will take place later this season.

Wilson explained how daunting the task will be:

“One of the biggest challenges we have this year is going to the racetrack and competing for championships like we do every year. At the same time we’re working with NASCAR to make sure that we’re ready to go racing with Next Gen literally a year from this weekend. It’s a daunting task, but the good news is testing has gone well so far, and at least on paper we should be ready to race the Next Gen Car.”

The Next Gen Car presents a possible improvement in the quality of racing. A Next Gen Engine won’t be implemented until 2022 or later. The change in the quality of racing may be gradual until all of the pieces are put together.

Wilson is optimistic that the quality of racing on track will improve with the Next Gen Car:

“I think the quality of racing, quality of entertainment will be as good or better. That’s certainly one of the pillars of success that we as an industry defined for this car. What we haven’t done yet is we haven’t put more than one on track at the same time. Obviously that testing is planned for later this year, but in theory it should put on a great show on the racetrack.”

The Next Gen Car is scheduled to debut in the 2021 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

One Comment

  1. James Carmichael

    February 14, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Down with Nascar.Nascar is on its way out. I no longer will watch the (races, boring restricter cars, multi millionaire teams) to name a few plus Nascar does not support our nations 2nd amendment which is the straw that broke the camels back so bye bye Nascar. Sorry about that drivers. Not sport any longer. Hasnt been for yrs.

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