Next Gen needs to back up what it did last year in Kansas

Kurt Busch drove the Next Gen to victory last year in Kansas

This Sunday’s Advent Health 400 at the Kansas Speedway will provide an opportunity for the Next Gen race car to show whether or not it can still put on good races. The contests held so far this season have been very inconsistent with a few events providing good entertainment while others have not. But in comparison to the early part of the 2022, this season is not following up in a positive way.

While the ‘Good Race Poll‘ administered by Jeff Gluck of The Athletic may not exactly be the most scientific guide, it can serve as a guide nonetheless due to the high number of responses Gluck receives from the survey posted through his Twitter account following each NASCAR Cup Series event. That poll shows that, for the most part, the racing in 2023 has not been as good as it was in 2022.

NASCAR’s Next Gen car began its time as the primary machine used at the sport’s top level last season. Initially, the prospects looked good in terms of competition as the races proved to be entertaining, especially on the intermediate tracks where competition had previously been criticized. The new car had gotten off to a good start and Gluck’s poll mostly confirmed that.

This season has, however, not sustained those early successes. According to the results of the aforementioned  poll, eight of the 11 races held so far have underperformed compared to last year. Only Martinsville, Richmond and the dirt race at Bristol have offered better action this year than last. That said, some races this season have received a solid score but the race being compared to earned a very high score last year. At the same time, the three races to outperform their predecessors had a very low hurdle to clear.

The reason why this Sunday’s race is an important one for this car is that both Kansas events in 2022 graded out very well. The first show, which was won by Kurt Busch, scored a 90.1% on the positive side.

That race had eight cautions and featured 18 lead changes. Busch took the lead from Kyle Larson with 8 circuits remaining then went on to take the checkered flag. Apparently, fans enjoyed that race.

The second Kansas event was won by Bubba Wallace. That race received a judgement of 89.6% in the affirmative. There were 16 exchanges of the lead with nine yellow flags. The race winner led the final 42 laps.

The point of stating all of that is to confirm that the Kansas Speedway is capable of having an entertaining race. So, this is an important weekend for the Next Gen because if it cannot follow up on last season, then it will take another step toward showing that the car is not living up to the early promise it once demonstrated.

Again, Gluck’s poll may not exactly be scientific but it does serve as a good guide to a degree. If the Advent Health 400 does not produce a score reasonably close to those of 2022, the Next Gen may be devolving from its early days.

Kansas has produced good racing. The Next Gen has produced good racing. It is important for the car to produce similar results on this track again to confirm that NASCAR took a step in the right direction when the car was implemented.

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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.

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