RCR’s Petree is confident that next-generation improvements are on the horizon

From the team’s perspective, Andy Petrie says he is satisfied with the communication and response from NASCAR about addressing issues with the next-generation race car.

But Petree, Richard Childress Racing’s vice president of competition, also admits it came to him from a different perspective for many of the car’s critics. Petree approaches NASCAR from the competition side, while a lot of the negative – and very loud – comments come from the drivers.

“I think NASCAR does a good job of taking inputs [and] Listen to what we’re saying as an industry,” Petrie said. “I don’t know about the drivers… they might not get the response they feel they need to have some of these things, but NASCAR is working on the car. I see some future design changes that we hope will address some of the things drivers are saying about some of the impacts, and maybe soon we can improve the car a bit.

“But I’m happy with the dialogue we’ve had and the collaboration we’ve had when we’re trying to fix issues. Mentoring is one of those. We have a bunch of people who come together around that, and they put their input into it, so hopefully we can go ahead and make this system a little bit better. So yeah, I’m happy with what We are on it now.”

Long before Kurt Bosch and Alex Bowman were sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, drivers complained about the effects. The next generation, according to drivers, is built stiffer, and the rear shocks hurt more than ever.

Bush put his car in the wall at the Pocono racetrack in mid-July and hasn’t raced since. Bowman spun last weekend in Texas and also suffered from a rear impact. It was announced Thursday night that he will not compete on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Among the other problems that came up were the steering racks, fires and tires. NASCAR and the teams worked on solutions to steering rack problems — mainly vibrations — during pre-season testing. When multiple cars caught fire over the summer, the series made changes before Richmond Raceway and after Darlington Raceway in an ongoing effort to find a solution.

Tire failures have occurred all year long. But this is a combination of the load placed on the tires with the vehicle and the air pressure and camber setting.

“We are all responsible for the way we make cars [and] Petri said. “Maybe we’d like a tire that’s more robust and might not offer a significant performance advantage to add camber lowering pressure, all of those things. It’s a tough proposition for [Goodyear]. We’ll probably never make a tire that we can’t shred, but as a team we have to keep track of every performance, everywhere. Especially with the cars so much closer now that you have to dig into every detail, and we were on the wrong side of that.

“California, one of the first races on the downforce circuit this year, we had an apartment with Tyler [Reddick] On the rear left is leading the race. We learned from that a little bit and then we go and have a failure in the right back in Atlanta (while) running really well. Then we had another one in Kansas recently. So, we have to go back and say, how can we protect the tire more? How do we keep getting performance out of it? How do we walk the tightrope between performance and durability? I felt like we did a really good job this week in Texas. It was nerve-wracking for sure, but some people were on the wrong side of it, and luckily we were on the good side and were able to take the win.”

Kevin Harvick has been particularly vocal about “inferior” parts and tires. Others, like Petrie, put the responsibility around the garage. When it comes to the necessary fixes, Petree doesn’t think it will lead to off-season testing but only ongoing updates.

“I can see some design changes maybe in the bodywork and a couple of places that don’t affect performance,” Petrie said. “It’s not really a reason to go to test those, and obviously we’re not going to crash the team cars to be able to see just how capable the crash is. I’m sure there are a lot of simulations that can do the job. But I see them making some additional changes to improve it.”

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