For over a year now, NASCAR has been teasing its new Next Gen stock car. Officially revealed last spring, the Next Gen Chevy, Ford, and Toyota race cars have endured a gauntlet of tests to ensure the new platform is ready for race day.

While we got a glimpse of them in the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race earlier this month, the Next Gen Cars’ first day on the clock will officially be at today’s Daytona 500.

NASCAR is introducing its Next Gen Stock Car in the 2022 Daytona 500. Here, Corey LaJoie pilots the #7 Next Gen Chevy Camaro during testing earlier in the fall of 2021. (Image/Bob Leverone – Getty Images)

There’s plenty to get excited about on this Next Gen Car, so let’s dig in.

For starters, it just looks cool.

In fact, NASCAR makes it clear that a big reason behind the Next Gen design was to allow the cars to more closely mimic their real-world counterparts sitting next to you at stoplights. That means the Next Gen Camaro will look more like a late model Camaro, the Next Gen Mustang will look more like a late model Mustang, and the Next Gen Camry will look more like a production Camry. Neat.

Bye-bye lugnuts. The Next Gen NASCAR stock car will feature a single, center locking nut like other race series. Here’s a closer look at the wheel and Goodyear tire on the #41 NASCAR Next Gen Mustang driven by Cole Custer. (Image/James Gilbert – Getty Images)

But you’ll notice other external changes too, like 18 inch center-lock wheels, a wider stance, and a composite body. The underside of the Next Gen Cars also got a makeover, with a new an underwing and rear diffuser—which NASCAR tells us will help with handling in traffic and reduce “dirty air.”

This cutaway blueprint from NASCAR shows you some of the key changes debuting in the Next Gen NASCAR stock car. (Image/NASCAR)

There are plenty of upgrades under the surface too. Starting with (GASP!) a transaxle located in the back. That’s a similar setup to, say, the C5-C7 Corvette and first-gen Pontiac Tempest. NASCAR says that this layout will improve the car’s weight balance. Instead of a traditional solid axle, the transaxle will use a pair of half-shafts to spin the rear wheels.

In a very, very curious statement, NASCAR even alludes to electrification as another reason behind incorporating a transaxle here. Yup, we may be seeing electric NASCAR races in the future!

Oh, and that aforementioned transmission will add another gear to become a five-speed. It’s sequential as well, meaning that there’s no traditional shift gate, rather drivers simply push the lever up for upshifts and down for downshifts. Ever ride a motorcycle? Then you know how this works.

Martin Truex Jr. tests the #19 Next Gen Camry at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in fall of 2021. (Image/Bob Leverone – Getty Images)

NASCAR also explains that a lot of these changes promote racer safety, as evidenced in a redesigned chassis that accommodates new bumpers front and rear. NASCAR also hopes that the changes will make the Next Gen Cars easier to service and repair during a race.

Here’s a good look at Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s #47 Next Gen Camaro. The body is made out of a new composite material that NASCAR says will stand up to more track abuse. (Image/James Gilbert – Getty Images)

Want more details on NASCAR’s Next Gen Car? Check out this spec sheet and turn your TV on today to see its official race debut in the 2022 Daytona 500.

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