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At Least One Manufacturer is Okay with Increasing Horsepower

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

If there is one thing that every NASCAR fan and driver seems to agree on, it’s that there needs to be more horsepower on short tracks to make the racing product better. Well, Jeff Gluck of The Athletic wrote about the short track problem, which featured a comment from David Wilson of TRD. Wilson told Gluck that TRD would be “On board” with increasing horsepower if that was the general consent.

  • The short-track package has been the subject of much scrutiny since the Next-Gen car was introduced. Fans have not liked the racing product on short tracks with the Next-Gen car, while the previous Gen-6 car was highly praised for its’ short track product.
  • For a while now, the general consensus amongst fans and drivers is that NASCAR should look at increasing the horsepower on short tracks and road courses. However, NASCAR has refused to do so citing cost concerns and attracting new manufacturers.
  • Fans have been asking for NASCAR to increase horsepower, and having a manufacturer say they are open to it is a big deal. It provides more ammunition for fans to say that horsepower should increase.

What Did Wilson Have to Say?

Here is the full quote from Wilson to Gluck in the article. Wilson says that he and Toyota are okay with increasing horsepower, but, he also admits the problem is very complicated.

We’d like to see better racing, and the path to that — we’re open to about anything. If the consensus is we need to put the power back up, then we’re on board…But we’re seeing historic reliability with our power plants, and that doesn’t happen by accident. … It’s trying to turn all of those knobs and achieve the best balance and not hurt one particular stakeholder or competitive element moreso than another. I don’t envy NASCAR in that regard, because it’s a tough problem to solve for.

David Wilson via Jeff Gluck of The Athletic

There is a small catch to Wilson being okay with increasing horsepower. He talks about the “historic reliability” that the Next-Gen car has had, and about how NASCAR needs to balance between multiple different factors.

The Next-Gen car has indeed been incredibly reliable, especially in 2023. We recently broke down DNFs in the Next-Gen car, and we found that in the 2023 season, only 7 DNFs were because of engine failures. That’s 1/3 as many engine failures as there were in 2021 and 2022.

Naturally, adding horsepower means a higher strain on the engines. That’s a factor that must be considered if NASCAR wants to increase the horsepower.

Still, regardless of that fact, TRD admitted that they are okay with increasing horsepower. If they are okay with it, then how much would the cost really be?

Is the Cost Really That Much Higher?

While making any major increases to horsepower on short tracks may be a bigger undertaking, multiple people in the industry have said that a small bump in horsepower would not be a major issue. Denny Hamlin was on the Dale Jr. Download, and he said that, from a team owner’s perspective, engine bills have not changed much since the change in horsepower.

I can tell you as a team owner, our engine bills when it was 700 or 800 horsepower versus right now is no different, so I don’t understand why going back and taking a $0.50 piece of aluminum that is a tapered spacer, and opening that thing up to 750 [horsepower], I cannot make sense of why we’re not doing it.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin also discussed different ways in which increasing horsepower would help the short-track package. You can catch a full breakdown of that below.

Senior Vice President of ECR Engines, Bob Fisher was a guest on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio in December. He said that removing the tapered spacer and increasing horsepower to 750, “Wouldn’t be a huge tear up to engine companies.”

If the issue is cost, there is at least one team owner and one engine builder who agrees the cost would not be that steep. TRD’s David Wilson seems to be at least open to the idea as well.

At least one manufacturer, at least one engine builder, and at least one team owner are all now open to increasing horsepower. If that is the case, then how much longer until NASCAR just decides to increase horsepower?

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