Austin Dillon detailed the “most difficult part” of the Next Gen car ahead of its official debut in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The long-awaited official debut of the NASCAR Next Gen car is right around the corner, with the 64th annual Daytona 500 scheduled to get the 2022 Cup Series season underway at Daytona International Speedway this Sunday, February 20 (Fox, 2:30 pm ET).
The first competitive action of the season took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum two Sundays ago in the Busch Light Clash exhibition race.
While the purpose-built, quarter-mile track inside the home of the USC Trojans football team was a track that NASCAR had never run with the Gen 6 car, it provided a learning experience for the drivers behind the wheel of their new cars, much like the regular tracks that hosted offseason testing.
Austin Dillon, who is set for his ninth season as the full-time driver of the # 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, is looking forward to getting the 2022 season underway and driving the Gen 7 car after an offseason of preparing to deal with the many changes it has presented.
He noted what he feels is, out of all the changes, the “most difficult part” of the new car.
“It’s different,” Dillon told Beyond the Flag. “I really enjoyed it at the LA Coliseum; it has different qualities that the old car definitely did not have. I do not think the old car had the capabilities this car has. But learning the steering part of this car has probably been the most difficult part. It’s very quick and kind of reactive, so we’re just trying to do our best to get it comfortable and try to open your mind as much as possible to new feels. ”
Dillon is looking forward to improving at the road courses, of which there are six on this year’s 36-race schedule, and the 1.5-mile ovals, which are scheduled to host nine events (10 including the All-Star Race).
“I’m really looking forward to getting on some of these road courses with this car,” he said. “I think this car was built for it, the Next Gen car. But shoot, I do not know, it’s a good question. Mile-and-a-halfs have been pretty decent for us, but any time we can go to a mile-and-a-half and perform a little better than we have in years past would be nice. I think Darlington will be a wild race as well. ”
Last year, Dillon racked up enough points to finish the regular season in 13th place in the standings. It was arguably the best season of his career from a consistency standpoint. But with so many different winners, 13 to be exact, it was not enough for him to lock into the 16-driver playoffs, as he finished fourth in points among the non-winners.
His goal this year is simply to win, just like he did to lock himself into the playoffs during the 2017 (Coca-Cola 600), 2018 (Daytona 500) and 2020 seasons (Texas Motor Speedway).
“I think that’s a great point; I felt like we had a really solid year last year as far as consistency went, ”he explained. “Due to just so many winners – I would not call it unfortunate, just a lot of winners last year – I think this year the main point I learned is to win. So we have to figure out how to get to victory lane at all costs and let the points thing just figure itself out. ”