This year’s Daytona 500, which marked the official debut of the Cup Series’ Next Generation race car, didn’t disappoint. The race featured 35 lead changes and 6,462 green-flag passes, according to NASCAR loop data. Sunday’s race at Talladega will be just the second race for the Next Gen car on a superspeedway, but if it’s anything like Daytona, it will be just as entertaining.
“I think it’s going to be pretty similar to Daytona,” said Kevin Harvick, a former winner at both Daytona and Talladega. “I think it’ll be more aggressive than Daytona just because everybody’s more comfortable, there’s more room to move around, and everybody has a little bit more time in the car. It’ll be the same style of race, just more aggressive.” Harvick, who is one of NASCAR’s longest tenured active drivers, doesn’t anticipate the Next Generation car performing much differently in the draft at Talladega than its predecessor did. “I’ve been through so many different styles of superspeedway cars, and every package has its own little nuances,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. “I think the superspeedways are probably the least amount of change among the tracks we’ve raced at with the Next Generation car so far.”
Based on what he experienced at Daytona, Harvick expects the new car to also draft similarly at Talladega to what the old car did. “Every rules package has a difference,” he said. “Some of them you can push really good, some of them you can’t push, some of them are pack racing, some of them are single-file, some of them are tandem. This one, you can push and it has some tandem, but it winds up being pack racing. Every package ends up migrating in a little bit different of a direction, it seems.”