During the first three weeks of the NASCAR Cup Series season, numerous drivers lost control of the Gen 7 cars while practicing, qualifying or battling for position on the track. Now Alex Bowman has explained why the best drivers face incidents.
The driver of the #48 Chevrolet Camaro from Hendrick Motorsports shared some insight before the trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He explained that overall the cars aren’t exactly harder to drive. There are only certain factors that will eliminate any margin for error each week, resulting in collisions with the wall.
“It’s interesting because they’re not necessarily harder to drive, they’re harder to predict and salvage if something goes wrong,” Bowman said. “I think they are quite similar in terms of driving the race car. They’re just a lot more nervous than in the past. Like the old cars, you can slide around and if you lose traction you can usually save the cars.
“The new car is a much finer line. Once the car loses grip, it usually ends in an accident. Have no real chance to save it. So just try to find the balance of how hard you can really drive the car. Instead of driving the car really hard for the whole race, you tend to back off and just not run as hard. So it’s just different.”
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Bowman expects the cars to get easier to save as drivers gain more seat time and really hit the meat of the season. Right now they have to approach each race with the knowledge that Gen 7 cars are less forgiving overall.
The cars made Bowman change his approach
The number 48 driver has spent the first three weeks of the season preparing for a significant change. The new cars aren’t necessarily made for the setup he prefers, particularly at the medium-difficulty circuits, so he’s had to change his approach and follow some of his team-mates at Hendrick Motorsports.
“Yes, for me, I think it changes things quite a bit,” Bowman added. “I really like a relaxed race car. I much prefer to ride off the right rear tire than my teammates. I’m always much more relaxed than them to be happy with my car. So I kind of had to back up and try to figure out how to go more in their direction and drive a tighter race car, which I never liked.
“You look at Kyle Larson and it’s his pilothouse. He loves being super tight. I can not stand. I thought, ‘I want the rear of the car to steer the front of the car.’ So trying to somehow understand how to shift my balance that I’m looking for and do a better job with a tighter race car was the biggest thing.”
A loose race car has helped Bowman in the past. He used this setup during the 2020 trip to Auto Club Speedway and put on a dominant performance. Fast forward to 2022 and he was forced to run a tighter setup after learning that the new cars’ skids result in less downforce and ultimately spins.
Bowman expects some small teams to make noise
As a member of a strong organization, Bowman has contributed to numerous wins during his run as a full-time rider. So far, however, only one member of HMS has reached victory lane in the 2022 season, while smaller teams have made their way into the competition.
Drivers like Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have all made top 10 finishes in the opening weeks of the season while going head-to-head with Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick motorsports.
Bowman explained that he expects this trend to continue in the first half of the season. He believes the smaller teams will be battling for wins early – and potentially hitting victory lane – before some of the larger teams with more resources start figuring things out.
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https://heavy.com/sports/nascar/alex-bowman-explains-next-gen-spins/ Alex Bowman explains Rise in Next Gen Spins